Tag Archives: mouth opening

Good enough

12 Jun

I went in to the oral surgeon’s office today expecting to learn some new jaw exercises. In view of my recent reading, I was somewhat skeptical of the idea that my opening was actually going to get better, so I showed up prepared to ask whether it was reasonable to

When the oral surgeon came into the examination room, he asked me how my opening was. I started to answer before he clarified that he wanted to see it. I opened my mouth, and to my surprise, he told me that it was better than he expected. He added that most people can put three fingers in their mouth, and then demonstrated by trying to put three of his fingers in his mouth. The third one didn’t really fit, though. He had me try to do the same, and I was able to put two fingers in easily, but my opening wasn’t wide enough for a third finger.¬† The oral surgeon said it was close enough, ¬†demonstrated with his fingers that it was only a millimeter or two from normal, and then watched as I opened and closed my mouth a couple of times to make sure that it was opening straight. He said that I “totally qualify” to have my braces taken off and asked if I wanted them removed right then. I wanted little more, so I answered in the affirmative.

The oral surgeon told me that the wires around my teeth would poke my gums as he pulled them out, so he gave me three options for counteracting the pain: nitrous oxide and a numbing gel; nitrous oxide, the numbing gel, and ¬†novacaine; or general anesthesia. I chose the first of these options, and the oral surgeon told me that most people can handle it, adding that it was “like having a really mean hygienist.”

The oral surgeon moved me to another room, where an assistant put gauze in my mouth, spread the numbing gel on my gums, and hooked me up with nitrous oxide through my nose. The oral surgeon came into the room and started to say, “The adventure that began in April…”. He said it in this overly dramatic tone that sounded like it might have come from one of Barack Obama’s speeches (video; see 9:44), but the second half of the oral surgeon’s sentence, “…comes to a close,” was decidedly less dramatic. He then took the gauze out of my mouth, told me to open my mouth, and cut each of the wires on the top of my mouth before pulling them out. It hurt a little bit, but the pain went away when the wire was out, so it wasn’t bad. At this point, I realized that I had actually started breathing through my mouth again, and I wasn’t feeling the nitrous oxide as much. The oral surgeon then removed the bottom wires. Somewhere in the middle of removing the bottom wires, I noticed that I was sweating a lot, but I don’t know if this was nervousness, an effect of the numbing agents, or a result of the room actually being hot.

The oral surgeon turned off the nitrous oxide and turned on a supply of oxygen, and told me that I didn’t need to return to his office, but I could call if I had concerns. He added that I’d be ready to chew the hardest foods (which he identified as crisp apples, hard French bread, and very hard vegetables) around July 4. The assistant gave me a toothpaste and toothbrush and had me brush my teeth. I had brushed before going, so there wasn’t anything but blood on them, but I complied anyway. The assistant told me that my gums would bleed easily for the next two or three weeks, but that I shouldn’t let this keep me from flossing.

Finally, I have some pictures. First up is a picture of my mouth, sans arch bars.

open mouth

It isn’t perfectly straight, but the appearance of crookedness is exaggerated by the fact that my front teeth are not the same length. The second picture is of me trying to stuff my fingers in my mouth.

I tried to stick my fingers in my mouth before I got caught by the vegan police.

I tried to stick my fingers in my mouth. I suppose this endeavor was made slightly easier by the fact of my having slender fingers.

Twenty-three with braces

2 Jun

These days, the only major sign of my accident is the arch bars on my teeth. The oral surgeon told me that they’d stay on until my mouth is opening normally enough that he is sure they won’t be needed again. As the days progress, I find myself increasingly impatient for this to happen. I don’t particularly mind the look, and the arch bars aren’t even that visible. It’s just that I feel like I’m about ten years too old to have braces on my teeth.

Over the last week or so, I’ve been stretching my jaw muscles more and more. The oral surgeon only told me I should work on opening wider, but sometimes I work on the side-to-side motions a bit, hoping that it might help to correct the problem of the right side of my mouth opening further than the left.

The truth is that I don’t even really know how far my mouth should be able to open, or even what straight is. The latter question seems like it should be easily settled, but it’s not so easy because my front teeth aren’t perfectly straight. Some of them have shifted slightly since the accident (owing to my inability to wear a retainer while my jaw was wired), and two were chipped and then repaired artificially. The oral surgeon wants me to focus on keeping my chin straight, but even that’s not so easy because my chin has a small bump on the right side where it was stitched up. As for the width of the opening, I haven’t been able to find out what is normal, but I’m pretty sure that it’s wider than my opening of about four centimeters.

If there’s one thing that keeps me from sitting around and exercising my jaw all day long, it’s the understanding that my trying too hard to fit in may well have caused the accident in the first place. I’m not quite sure what could go wrong here. I doubt that my muscles are strong enough to break the bone again, but I’d rather not find out.

%d bloggers like this: