Elizabeth's Story

I was told from age 7 that I was developing an overjet but I was also told we needed to wait before treating the problem until I was fully grown, because "it might solve itself" and "you always want to wait until all the permanent teeth have come in, because that's what you always do before you treat."

I wore headgear between ages 11-12. I was told that we needed to stop the excessive growth of the upper jaw since it was way ahead of the lower. (In reality the upper jaw was actually too far back! This is very obvious if you look at pictures of me from that time - I already had a somewhat sunken upper lip even though the front teeth appeared to be protruding.) This headgear treatment somewhat camouflaged the problem since the teeth were pushed into the face. However, I relapsed within a couple of months after the treatment was finished.

When I turned 15 I was told that the jaw problem was still there, I had an overjet of about 10 mm and crooked teeth. Me and my parents were told by several dentists and orthodontists that the only treatment that would fix this problem was to pull 4 teeth and wear braces for 2 years. They couldn't really motivate it but they claimed that "the teeth don't fit together, this needs to be solved". We didn't really think this approach made sense but since it was the treatment that was suggested to a lot of people and since we had already gotten second and third opinions we reluctantly complied.

The two first premolars in the upper jaw and the second premolars in the lower were pulled. Fixed braces were then installed. Toward the end of the first year of treatment I started snoring, something I had never had a problem with before. All of a sudden having sleepovers with my friends wasn't possible anymore since people couldn't sleep in the same room. (I am and have always been thin by the way.) I used to be a pretty good runner but I remember wondering why things had changed. I remember telling my friend, "something is wrong with me, I don't seem to get enough air!" One friend and my brother also commented on my eyes not closing entirely when I was asleep. I would always wake up with very crusty eyes, possibly because of the air leaking in between the eyelids. This had not been the case before braces. I believe that the cranium was guided downwards to the extent that the eyes started slanting and the eyelid would no longer fit over the eye. If you look at old pictures of me before and after treatment, my eyes used to be much straighter before. I also can't wear contacts because my eyes get too dry.

When the braces were removed I was told to wear a retainer for the rest of my life. I was very upset to hear this since nobody had told me that relapse was inevitable without retaining the result. I thought to myself, "What have I done to my body? Something is not right here!" I wore a fixed wire glued to my teeth for 16 years and a plastic retainer for 5 years. A lot of food would get caught in the wire and even though I tried to keep the area clean one of my lower front teeth had gum recession and will always be at risk. I couldn't find a dentist who was willing to remove the wire, maybe because they didn't want to be responsible for my teeth relapsing?

Within a year or two after the braces treatment I started having other problems. My tongue didn't seem to fit in the mouth anymore and I didn't know where to place it when I tried to go to sleep. I then started having jaw clicking, popping and locking of the jaw. The mouth also couldn't open as much as it used to. I became the "slow eater" among my friends and family since it would always take me so much time to bite off small pieces and chew. Carrots, bell peppers and potato chips felt very awkward to chew and I would often get little pieces stuck in my throat. I started having difficulties swallowing as well. I would choke on water and start coughing heavily. Sometimes it took me a couple of seconds to be able to swallow. I have later been told that this is all part of the TMJ problem.

More obvious signs of a TMJ problem was severe jaw pain for a couple of weeks every now and then. I was grinding my teeth day and night. I also found myself trying to find a bite and not ever succeeding. I no longer knew how to rest my jaw. I would bite my front teeth and always do "something" with my mouth. I knew the lower jaw wanted to come forward but I didn't see how, since the upper was in the way. The lower jaw used to get really tired from just hanging.

I started having severe neck pain a couple of years ago and have recently stopped working altogether since I can't sit in front of a computer for more than 30 minutes before it starts hurting. Whether this is due to TMJ, I'm not sure. But I do know that the cranium is out of balance and I've been told by chiropractors that the rest of the body is affected by the shape of the skull.

The snoring got worse. Boyfriends would now tell me they worried since I would stop breathing while I was asleep. I also started having nightmares where I either choked, drowned or where I was desperately trying to tell people that I needed help because I couldn't breathe. I woke up in panic, gasping for air. Sometimes I had trouble falling asleep since I would stop breathing right before which really freaked me out.

My appearance changed shortly after the braces treatment started. I was disappointed that my upper lip now looked so flat and dished in. My nose appeared much bigger because of this. I couldn't stand my profile anymore. I was actually on a TV show but during the preview they showed me a profile pic of me and I had to tell them to remove it from the recording. I got dark creases around my nose and mouth. People kept telling me, "You look sad!" or "You look so afraid!" I was also told similar things during job interviews and doctors appointments. I guess I will never know what influence my appearance has had on my life. My chin was receded before the braces treatment but after the treatment this got even worse. It looked like a child's chin in an adult person's face. I also got a very loose, flabby lower lip with a dark line where it meets the chin. I've been told that this was caused by the retraction of the lower teeth. I also got a double chin (again, I'm pretty thin so it's not excessive fat or anything), possibly from the lower jaw ending up so far back. One doctor actually asked me if I had been checked for goiter/hyperthyreosis since my throat looked really swollen. Although I have found that if I jut my lower jaw forward to force an underbite, this disappears. My smile became very narrow after braces and I somehow my teeth still drew attention to them, in a bad way.

I have seen several functional orthodontists lately that have admitted that the treatment I was given as a child has harmed me. However, I decided to start treating myself with various methods since I can't afford a reversal of the treatment (upper and lower jaw expansion including teeth implants). I've heard people pay 60.000 dollars for this. Yet I can't live this way, because life just gets very very hard with all these problems.

Testimonial by

Elisabeth Pezouvanis
Use this email address to contact me ([email protected])

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  • Jonas N
    commented 2023-09-18 10:14:50 -0700
    Hey i dont wanna write a long ass comment and get no reply. But I know your remedy. All those so called professionals are sleeping on it. You only need to look up for houndreds of hours. It will bring your maxilla ans jaw forward end your tmj change your appearance and everything. Ask me about it if you read this. FB: Jonas Noa
  • Omar Lalani
    published this page in Patient Stories 2022-01-19 00:39:09 -0800

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