Monday, February 19, 2007

My background - it's a LONG one (part 2)

Oh, I forgot to mention that this surgeon, after measuring my face, also suggested that I have genioplasty done, my chin is just a little too long for the rest of my face. But he told me that he had to measure to see it, and he does this for a living. So I have decided to pass on that. It won't be covered under insurance, and I really don't want to look that much different. But that could change next time I see him.

So now that I have an ortho and a surgeon that I like, you would think it would be easy, right? WRONG...

So my surgeon sends the letter to the insurance company for my pre-approval. After MANY phone calls and almost 3 months, I FINALLY get my approval. YEAH!!!

So back to the ortho it is for me! I get my bottom braces on in April 2006, with the tops going on in May 2006. Of course I can't have the nice ceramic ones as my ortho says that the surgery is too rough on them and that they metal ones are less likely to pop off with all of the bands that I will have on them after the surgery. So back in braces it is for me.

Before the braces went on I had to have another tooth pulled. It is a lower back one that I had a root canal done on a few years back. It still bothered me on and off, and all of my dentists said that it wouldn't take well to being moved with braces. So out it came. That one was a b-tch to get out as there was a post in my bone. My dentist also did a bone graft on it so that I can get an implant when this is all said and done. However, the bone graft didn't take, and I barely have any bone there to put a new post in. Oh, and of course this is considered "cosmetic" so it wasn't paid for by my dental insurance. Gotta LOVE insurance companies!

I go every 5 weeks to get readjusted, as expected. We were hoping that my teeth would be ready for surgery in November - December time frame. But once again, my teeth seem to be stuborn and not want to move quickly. So I finally get the go ahead for the surgery in February. Almost a year after the braces went on.

Well, mid way through January, I get a lovely letter from my surgeon. It states that they no longer participate with Aetna Medical. This, however, will not effect the service that they provide me. WHAT?!?!?! I am so shocked that I almost cry. You have got to be kidding me? That's why I switched to this surgeon was because they DID accept Aetna, and now they don't? I don't really want to pay for this surgery (I don't have much of a choice now as my teeth don't meet up AT ALL and I have constant headaches). So back to calling the insurance company and the surgeons office to fight... again.

After only a few calls to the insurance comapany and my surgeon, I got it settled! They will still accept the insuracnce since I was in the middle of this process when they decided to drop my insurance. THANK GOSH!!!

So my next appointment with the surgeon is on March 22. That is when we will set a surgery date. I never thought that this day would actually come, but it looks like it will!! I can't wait for this whole thing to be over with and have the smile and pain free jaw that I have always dreamed of. And I can't wait to have some kids either!!!

I'll let you all know how my March 22 appointment goes and keep you updated!!!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

My background - it's a LONG one (part 1)

Well, I might as well start at the beginning...

When I was in 5th grade I got my first set of brand new shiny braces!!! Oh what fun that was! I even got to have 5 teeth pulled before they were put on (1 baby, and 4 adult!). Now to say that I was a little scaredy cat when I was a kid is putting it midly. But I was a big girl and made it through the whole ordeal.

When they origianlly put the braces on, I was told 1.5 - 2 years until they would come off. Well, that was a BIG lie! I had one tooth that was growing sideways in my gums, so that had to wait to see if it would come down on its own, and if not, do surgery to pull it down. Luckily it did eventually come down on it's own. But because of that lovely tooth, and the fact that my teeth move VERY slowly, I had braces on for 4 years, 7 months, 13 days, and 5 hours... but who's counting. I STILL remember the extra amount of time, and that was over 13 years ago that they were taken off.

I was VERY good about wearing my retainers every night. My older sister also had braces and she never wore her retainers and I could tell that her teeth were moving. I rememberd all the pain and time that I had the braces on, and I wanted to keep my teeth straight.

I was probably in 11th grade when I started having trouble again. My retainers weren't fitting as well anymore, and I wore them everynight, so it wasn't like when you forget to wear them for a few days, and they are tight for a few hours. They were just tight all the time, but mainly the bottom one. And I started to notice that my jaw would pop and crack when I would open and close my mouth. It would hurt if I chewed gum or tried to open it for a big sandwich. So I asked my ortho at the time about it. He said that the only way to fix my jaw would be to have surgery. Well, I was only in 11th grade, and that was the last thing that I wanted to have. So I just ignored the pain and stopped chewing gum (which I was additced too).

I kept on wearing my retainers everynight, and the bottom one kept getting tighter and tighter. One night in college I woke up and my retainer wasn't in my mouth. I searched everywhere, but I couldn't find it. I had to go home in a few weeks for winter break and I had an appointment to get my teeth cleaned. So I asked my general dentist if he could make me a new one (as I was no longer seeing my ortho since the braces had been off for over 5 years). He made me a new one and i started to wear that. This one too eventually got to feeling VERY tight. So after about a year, I just stopped wearing them all together.

Fast forward to 5 years ago (about 2 years after I stopped wearing my retainers). I had graduated college and moved to a new town. I was having my first cleaning with my new dentist and he was feeling my jaw when I opened and closed. He winced when he felt and heard all of the popping and cracking. That's not a good sign when your dentist winces at your jaw. He asked me if my jaw ever bothered me. I told him that it would hurt and sometimes lock open when I had my teeth cleaned and that it gave me headaches. He suggested that I wear a mouth plate at night to try to relieve the pain. So I got mouth plate #1 for my bottom teeth.

I wore this for about 6 months, until I went to see him for my next cleaning. At this cleaning he got to witness first hand my jaw locking open. He said that the mouth plate that he gave me wasn't going to be enough to stop the pain and suggest that if I wanted to stop my teeth from wearing uneven and to relieve some of the pain, that I go to a orthodontist.

So off I go to orthodontist #1. He takes measurements, molds, and x-rays. I go back in a few weeks to hear what he has to say. He was VERY agressive and almost pushy with what he wanted to do. He told me that I would have to have braces on again, have my palate surgically expanded, move my top jaw up, my lower jaw back, and shorten my chin. Now, this is A LOT to take in at one time. He expected me to make a date right then and there to get the braces on and start moving forward with this whole process. I was not ready to do that right away. So I decided to get a second opinion.

My second opinion was with Dr. Graff (Dr. G from now on). He was VERY nice and explained everything in much more detail than the first ortho. He came back with the same plan basically, but he was not forcefull AT ALL. He told me to think it over and get back to him when I had made a decision. He also wanted to try some less invasive things before we did the braces to see if that relieved any of the pain. So I decided to go with Dr. G.

Dr. G first gave me an upper bite plate to wear at night to give my muscles a little bit of a rest to help relieve some of the imediate pain. He also took some better x-rays and showed me how both of the discs in my jaws had slipped and my jaws were rubbing bone on bone. Because of this, my jaw joints are now squared off, instead of rounded.

So off to my first visit with a surgeon. This was in November of 2003. The surgeon was nice, but he wanted to do multiple surgeries. Basically, only one thing at a time. First the Surgically Assisted Rapid Palate Expansion (SARPE), then move the lower jaw back, then the upper jaw forward. Why he wanted to move both jaws at different times, I never really found out. Well, he didn't except my insurance, so my insurance company made me go and see another surgeon. Since I was told by both orthos and the surgeon that I would need SARPE, and I would have a gap in my front teeth for a while, I decided to wait. I was recently engaged and I didn't really want to have a big gap in my front teeth for the wedding. So plans got put on hold until after the wedding, August 2005.

In September of 2005 I go back to Dr. G (the ortho) to get set up for braces and find a new surgeon (one that my insurance company would pay for). It worked out that the one that my insurance company worked with is also one that Dr. G works with a lot. So I get new models from Dr. G and make an appointment with Dr. Lewis (the surgeon) for January of 2006. Yes, it took that long to be able to get in with him. But it was worth the wait. I REALLY liked him. He was great and explained EVERYTHING!!! He had a different approach to my situation then the other surgeon did, which is another reason I liked him. He said that with braces alone, we could get my upper teeth out far enough, so that meant no SARPE for me!!! And he didn't want to move my lower jaw back, but only my upper jaw forward to make my face more in line. I was REALLY liking him now!

Read part 2 for the rest of the story!!!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

My Surgery is going to be PAID FOR!!!

Ok, so I said that I would write some posts to update you all on my story with my teeth, but I just got some great news when I got home from work today. My surgery had currently been pre-approved over a year ago with Dr. Lewis. However, since my teeth are SLOW movers, it has taken almost a year for me to be ready for surgery (they originally thought 6 months, but I should have guessed that was wrong. I had braces as a kid for what they thought was going to be 1.5 - 2 years. 4 years, 3 months, 17 days, and 5 hours later I FINALLY get them off... but who's counting?)

Anyway, I got a letter about a month ago from Dr. Lewis saying that they no longer participate with Aetna Medical and that the surgery would have to be paid for by me. YIKES!!! Luckily, the hospital and anaesthesiologist were still covered. But this was going to cost me over $10,000, plus what I have already spent on braces.

I called Dr. L's office to see what the codes and so that I could talk to the insurance company. The insurance company told me to have Dr. L's office call them. Well, I got a call from Sherri from Dr. L's office today and it will still be covered under my insurance since I was already in treatment when the dropped Aetna! YEAH!!! What a huge weight off my shoulder.

My next appointment with Dr. L is March 22 to get a re-checkup and set a surgery date! I can't believe that this day is going to actually happen!