Welcome to my jaw surgery journey! While spending countless hours researching jaw surgery, I have found other peoples' blogs to be so informative, helpful, and encouraging that I was inspired to start my own! I have never blogged before and I'm still trying to figure it all out, but my hope is that not only will this blog be therapeutic for me, but it will also prove helpful to others who are starting this daunting journey into jaw surgery.
Officially, I began this journey early in June when I got two teeth pulled and then lower braces put on soon after. However, my decision to get jaw surgery has been a long (and I mean looonnggg) time coming. I went through all my orthodontics when I was in elementary and middle school. I had the complete works: palate spreader, head gear (I only had to wear it at night, thank gawd), and then I had braces from around 11 years old until I was 13 or 14. I was so excited to be done with the whole process, but when I finally got those braces off, something seemed a little wrong. My bite was not completely perfect and my appearance was sort of off. When my mom mentioned something to the orthodontist, he said something along the lines, "Oh her lower jaw is a little underdeveloped, you may need to consider surgery in the future." Umm..so I don't know why he didn't mention this BEFORE he started all this orthodontic work. But, too little too late and I just had to move on, knowing that surgery might have to happen a few years down the road.
Later on in high school, I suffered through years of headaches, jaw pain from grinding my teeth, and extreme tiredness. But, I was always very involved in sports and I also put a lot of pressure on myself to do well in school, so I mostly attributed everything to stress. I got a mouth guard to wear at night and that seemed to alleviate the grinding temporarily. However, it only got worse in college. The pain was overbearing and at times I just wanted to rip my jaw off. When I got back from studying abroad in the Summer of 2011, my condition worsened. Not only did my jaw hurt everyday, I also was not sleeping well and was starting to experience pain in my ears (weird, I know). I did a ton of traveling while in Europe and was constantly flying to different countries. When I got back to the United States, my ears felt like they were popping as if I was still on an air plane. So, I scheduled an appointment with an ENT and although there was nothing wrong with my hearing, as soon as he felt my jaws he said the pain was the result of TMJ. So, that led me to going to the oral surgeon who took out my wisdom teeth. She did X-Rays and listed some possibilities of what could be going on with my jaw, but said the only way to diagnose TMJ was to do an MIR. So, that was the next step and upon getting the MIR it was confirmed that I did have TMJ.
So, knowing that I possibly needed corrective jaw surgery, I scheduled a consultation with an oral surgeon recommended through the ENT. The oral surgeon took photos and after looking at me, he strongly recommended surgery as soon as possible. I was enthusiastic at first because I couldn't wait to get rid of all my pain, but when he explained the whole process, I began to feel very overwhelmed. I was hoping I could skip the whole braces thing since I already did that, but he said there was no way I could (I definitely starting crying at this point, so embarrassing). Then, he starting talking about sleep apnea. Because of the size of my lower jaw there was a very strong possibility that I had sleep apnea and he recommended I did a sleep test (I will write more details on that later). So, earlier this year I did the sleep test and it was confirmed that I did have sleep apnea. I felt a lot of relief when I found out I had sleep apnea. After years and years of whining about how tired I was, it was almost comforting to know that there was a reason I felt this way. It also made me feel more secure in my decision to get jaw surgery, because the surgery is one of the best ways to treat sleep apnea.
As stated before, I got lower braces put on in June. My doctors estimate that I will need lower braces on 10 months before surgery and top braces for only a few months before. My surgery is tentatively set for March 2013, but it is still a little too early to tell.
Well, this is way more than enough for now. I had no idea I had so much to say haha. But, more details to come! and hopefully I'll figure out how to upload some photos to expose my awful profile to the world!