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My Double Jaw Surgery: The 3rd Month After Surgery

Three months after undergoing upper and lower jaw surgery to treat sleep apnea, and I'm finally starting to feel a bit more like myself. My recent gum graft healed fairly quickly and I should be able to share some photos of that soon. The jaw pain is slowly improving, but I still have very limited jaw opening, which makes eating slow and somewhat awkward, not to mention messy... The residual numbness around my lips and chin along with the occasional drooling add to the issue as well. Let's just say I don't eat or drink much without a napkin in the immediate vicinity.

The positive changes in my speech have been slow but steady. I still do have moderate lisping, as well as occasional slight spitting with certain sounds, especially the letter S. Several people have mistakenly heard me introduce myself as Tara rather than Sarah, and rather than continue to try to spit the letter S out at them, I've just let it go after the second attempt.

From a chewing perspective, there has been definite improvement as well, but I still find that if I have anything remotely chewy - especially certain meats - I am unable to break it down and either end up spitting it out (lovely, I know), or end up choking on it. Since I've been slowly incorporating more foods into my diet, I find that I am choking on a fairly regular basis, which as you can imagine is getting quite old. Luckily, I happened to go to a Continuing Education lecture on TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder) during this time. The lecture was given by a local Physical Therapist, Dr. Sarah Stuhr of PhysioPDX, who specializes in jaw joint therapy. What great timing! So I approached her and explained my situation and we set up a time to meet and hopefully gain some progress on the limited jaw opening and the frequent choking incidents.

In the meantime however, it was time to return to my orthodontist, Dr. Camille Walker, to have another scan done to make the next set of Invisalign trays. These scanned impressions use a fairly large-headed intra-oral scanner to take a digital impression of the teeth. I'm pretty sure I won the award for the most difficult scan. It took a very long and painful time to get the scan done due to my limited mouth opening. Getting the front of the mouth done was no sweat, but the posterior areas were quite challenging as I literally tried to use my thumb and forefinger to force my jaw open a little further, which was causing sharp pains. The discomfort eventually settled into a headache as well as a constant dull ache around the jaw joints that lasted for several days. I could have opted to delay the scan, but that would have simply delayed my overall treatment and I was more than ready to start moving these teeth back into a more functional bite since they were only touching in the front. This lack of overjet and overbite can be seen in this photo where my front teeth are hitting to end-to-end.

But on a good note, my ability to move my lips into a smile has become much more natural and doesn't feel as tight and forced. Here's to hoping things continue to move in the right direction!

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