Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Comic book on braces

I came across a recommendation for this comic book, Smile, about orthodontics. Seems pretty cool. Has anyone read it?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Jaw surgery articles

I haven't been writing here as much lately, as I don't have any real updates for you, but I have been doing some writing about jaw surgery over at Braces Info. It's kind of like my Ask Bella feature here at Smiling Bella, but to a wider audience.

I thought you might be interested in some of the topics I'm covering. Here's what I have been working on so far:

I'll post more links to my articles when they're available.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Second Jawiversary!

Friday was my two-year jawiversary (jaw surgery anniversary date) and today, Valentine's Day, marks two years since I came home from surgery with my jaw wired shut. It's hard to believe, because it feels so long ago, like it never actually happened.

A few weeks ago, I was absentmindedly running my fingers lightly across my chin when I realized that it felt...normal. There was no difference in sensation from the skin on either side of my chin to that on my chin itself. Which means the nerves damaged by the surgery have completely regenerated!

The majority of the sensation returned in the months after the surgery, but there was just a slight difference of sensation that very slowly improved over the past two years, and now it's totally healed. Hooray!

I'm thrilled with the results of the surgery. My smile is straight, my teeth fit together, I can chew like a real person, I don't have TMJ problems anymore, and I have a fabulous chin and profile.

I have no regrets about the surgery; although the recovery was really difficult, it was worth it in the end. Life is good.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Website Review:

Please note: this is a sponsored review.

I have another new site sponsor,, (the link is in my sidebar as well); here is a review of the website and how it can be helpful to those of us going through braces and jaw surgery.

Heads up: this site has a fair amount of ads, so you'll have to take some time to orient yourself and differentiate between ads and content. Though, I never thought I'd say this, the ads on the site are actually useful. They are targeted to the content on the site and your geographic area, so when I was searching the site, I saw dental ads specific to Canada and even Western Canada. I'll give you some important links in this review to help you navigate the site, too.

Dental Cost Calculator

The dental cost calculator on the site allows you to choose the city in the United States where you live (or the closest one to you) and the dental service you need; plug this information into the fields and the calculator will tell you the average cost of that service in that city, as well as the highest cost that you will find for that service.

For instance, in Fargo, North Dakota, the average cost for adult orthodontics is $6,762.91 and the highest cost is $8,144.12. This information would be helpful if you wanted to see if the estimate you got from an orthodontist or dentist falls into the average cost, or if it's much higher and you should get an estimate from someone else. It would also be helpful if you lived near several cities to determine which city has the lowest average price for the service you need. On a related topic, the site also has a very useful patient guide with tips on avoiding unqualified or inferior orthodontists. You never want to sacrifice quality for cost, of course.

Dental Insurance

The site has some good information on dental insurance. A feature I think is cool is a section where you can input your zip code and search for online dental insurance. I typed in the only US zip code I know (90210, natch), and was given a list of 21 insurance providers and descriptions of what they offered so you can compare and make an educated decision that fits your needs. There is also a page with a comparison of discount dental plans available to the general public.

Useful Articles

In addition to the guide on avoiding unqualified orthodontists I mentioned above, there are a variety of useful articles about orthodontics on the site. Article topics include: the link between dental disease and cardiovascular disease and the theory that orthodontics may prevent future heart problems (cool!); FAQs for adult orthodontic patients, teens with braces, and parents of kids with braces; and a great dictionary of dental terms that would be helpful when you're listening to all those dentists, orthodontists, and surgeons talk when they have their hands in your mouth. There are also some fun articles, such as one with a list of celebrities who have had braces.

This site is currently being revamped, and I'm going to be doing some writing there as well, so there will be many articles added in the near future, particularly on orthodontic and jaw surgery topics, so be sure to check back!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ask Bella: Zip-n-Squeeze Update

Q: I am getting upper and lower jaw surgery on January 28. I was planning on buying some Zip-n-Squeeze bags to help with eating but after I found this blog I am a little concerned about their customer service and the legitimacy of the company. One, did you need them and two, did you have problems with the company? Were there any other items you wish you had purchased or been prepared with before the surgery (i.e. a jaw bra) or would really recommend?

A: Thanks for reading, and writing. I didn't have problems with the Zip-n-Squeeze company back when I had my surgery, but that was almost two years ago, and there seems to be something going on with the company over the last several months. The website is still up, but when you try to put anything into your cart, you will get the message, "This recipient is currently unable to receive money." So, even if you want to order from them, you can't.

However, I'll tell you what I've told other people who have written me, frantically trying to get their hands on Zip-n-Squeeze bags: they're not necessary. I didn't even use mine very much. In the hospital, I used the syringes and tubing they provided, and at home, I did use the smaller Zip-n-Squeeze bags to rinse my mouth out with salt water and to drink juice, but I found that because I got my swelling down so quickly, I was able to slurp pudding or soup from a spoon, and the syringes worked well, too.

I was wired shut for two weeks, and four days were spent in the hospital where I didn't have to worry about taking care of myself, so that was handy. I imagine it would be more difficult for people who are wired shut longer, but when it comes to coping with hunger, people can be really resourceful - we will always find something that works to get food into our mouths!

As for your other question, here's a list of things I took to the hospital when I had my surgery: I think a jaw bra would be fantastic - be sure to get lots of extra cooling pacs and put them in your freezer so they're ready when you need them. Of course, there is a low-tech way to do this as well. The hospital gave me this gauze sock that they put cooling pacs in and tied around my head; it worked just as well, though it wasn't nearly as pretty (pictures are here:

Good luck with your surgery!

*To ask Bella a question about her jaw surgery, email her at smilingbella at gmail dot com or leave a comment on this post. Go ahead: ask away!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ask Bella: Talking after unwiring

Q: I just had jaw surgery 3 1/2 weeks ago and I'm going to get the wires out next week. I'm pretty concerned with my speech 'cause I'm still in school and I have to practice on my public speaking skills. I know you can't exactly talk perfectly right away or open your mouth but I want to know how long did it take you to start talking normal and be able to open your mouth?

A: I didn't find that the surgery affected my speech at all. Once I was unwired, I could only open my mouth a little bit, but it was enough to speak clearly - more clearly than I could with my jaw wired shut, that's for sure!

I could open my mouth wide enough to get a small toothbrush as well as a spoon in there right away, so that's what really mattered to me. Food and clean teeth! More information on how long it took me to get my mouth opening back to normal can be found on my blog under the category "range of motion."

However, I will mention my jaw was only advanced 4 mm. I have heard of some people who had major advancements (more than 7 mm) and found it affected their speech enough that they had to go to speech therapy. So, it depends on how much of an advancement you got (I'm assuming you had the same lower jaw surgery I did.)

In any event, you will be fine. It might be great right away or it might take a little work, but you'll know for sure in a few days, right?

Best wishes, and please let me know how it goes.

*To ask Bella a question about her jaw surgery, email her at smilingbella at gmail dot com or leave a comment on this post. Go ahead: ask away!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Website review:

Please note: this is a sponsored review.

I just got a new sponsor for my blog, a site called (the link is in my sidebar as well.) They asked me to review their site, and I thought it might be useful for my readers if I took a spin and reported on what the site has to offer us jaw surgery folks.

One thing I will give you a heads-up about is that there are a lot of ads on this site, so you will have to take a few seconds to orient yourself and distinguish between the ad links and the information links so you can find what you're looking for. I'll give you some of the most important links in this review, so that will help you, too.

Online Forum and Blogs

The most useful part of the site for us is the braces forums. In the forums, people can share experiences, information, photos, and ask questions of others who have gone through the same procedures. There is a forum called orthognathic surgery that could serve as a good resource for someone researching or going through jaw surgery. Some of the topics currently being discussed among members of this forum are: having to wear headgear after orthognathic surgery, questions about surgery for overbites, and updates on how people are recovering after surgery. It's a smaller forum, which can be a good thing, because there is a strong community built among regulars, offering regular support to one another.

I frequented both large and small online forums when I was researching my jaw surgery (see my sidebar under "online support groups") and found that there are advantages and disadvantages to each. The large forums have a wide variety of experiences and views expressed; however, if you ask a question, it may get lost and go unanswered; also, posts are added constantly, so it can be overwhelming to search through all of them to find what you needed. Smaller forums have a homier and more personal feel, but because there are less people involved, you may not always find the specific advice you're looking for.

I would suggest checking out a variety of online forums to find what's right for you, or, ideally, using a combination of them to get the answers you need. And, of course, once you've gone through your own jaw surgery journey, consider sharing your knowledge and experience with others on these forums so you may give back to our community.

I also thought it was cool that the braces forum has links to an area where members can post blogs about their orthodontic experiences. As I am writing this, there are 130 blogs on this page, and it is quite easy to navigate; there is a search function, and blogs are also organized into categories, including one for oral surgery. It's useful to have so many blogs in one place so you don't have to go digging for information (which is why I have so many links to jaw surgery blogs for you in my sidebar!)


At the bottom of the site's home page, you'll find links to a number of articles addressing common questions about braces. I read a number of them, and found some of the topics quite fun. For instance, there's an article explaining how you can make fake braces for a costume (might also be useful to see how you look in braces before you get them) and one about how to kiss with braces. Others are informative, such as how important it is to wear retainers for life after your braces are taken off, and issues surrounding permanent bonded retainers (something a dentist recommended to me after my teeth relapsed, but my orthodontist vetoed because they're so hard to keep clean. Whew - good thing I didn't go that route.)

Insurance and Orthodontists

The site also has links to information on orthodontic insurance for Americans, which is important because braces plus surgery can add up to tens of thousands of dollars. (I am Canadian, so this section doesn't really apply to me, as my surgery was covered under our universal health care program; however, I did purchase private insurance to cover part of the cost of my braces.) The site also has links to orthodontists in the States.


There is some good information on this site that can be useful to you in making decisions on getting braces and/or having jaw surgery. I would recommend you check out the forums and blogs for sure.


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