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In-between Jaws

teenager with a cleft lip and palate

After my first round of jaw surgery, my treatment plan became a little unusual…

I had my jaw operation in December 2015. After surgery, my post-op recovery was going well…until a morning in February when I woke up with my teeth the wrong way round. Once I’d woken up properly, my teeth moved back to their new, ‘proper’ position with the bottom jaw/teeth behind the top jaw/teeth. In the weeks leading up to this unexpected movement, I had noticed that, when I bit down on something a little harder, my top teeth would move upwards slightly. Since I had always bitten down with my teeth the ‘wrong’ way round, I assumed this was just how everyone ate and that the pain I could feel when biting into something harder like raw carrot sticks was merely because of the jaw surgery I’d had three months previously.

Sadly, the top teeth moving upwards and the pain were not an expected part of recovery. Slight movement whilst the bone heals is expected in the first 4-6 weeks, which is why a soft diet is crucial. When I saw my teeth the wrong way round, I rang the hospital as I was very concerned (obviously). In the end, it turned out that my jaw hadn’t healed with a bony union – where bone grows around the titanium plates and between the new jaw alignment. Instead, what’s known as a fibrous union had occurred. This is where (scar) tissue grows between the broken bone and new alignment. This was why my jaw could move up and down – because I was putting pressure on the scar tissue when I bit down on something, this is also why it was painful to eat harder foods since I could feel the pressure of biting down.

To try and resolve this, I was given a bite raiser (a thick, soft piece of plastic) that went over my bottom teeth to try and relieve pressure on my jaw when I would clench my teeth (which was particularly important at night). This didn’t help the jaw to stabilise and the surgeon’s worry that the jaw hadn’t healed properly was confirmed.

I decided to have another round of jaw surgery in September 2016, since (by this time) my jaw had moved back to how it was pre-surgery in December 2015. I’d like to highlight that this was an EXTREMELY rare thing to have happened. I found it quite hard to cope with psychologically (please see my other article), but luckily my second lot of surgery did work.


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