A student nurse is finally confident to smile after undergoing grueling jaw-reconstruction surgery last December.
Holly Everson-Bullock’s underbite jutted out more than one centimetre for 10 years, causing her to endure cruel bullying at school.
As well as having a huge impact on her confidence, the condition also made it difficult for Ms Everson-Bullock, 21, from Gloucester, to speak or eat due to her mouth not closing properly.
After having braces fitted to align her teeth, Ms Everson-Bullock ‘cried with happiness’ when her dentist said she was finally ready for surgery.
Although it took months for the swelling to go down, with Ms Everson-Bullock being unable to eat solid food or talk for six weeks, she says she ‘finally has her smile back’.
Ms Everson-Bullock said: ‘After the surgery I have a lot of my confidence back. I smile a lot more than I used to because I’m not as self-conscious about it.’
Student nurse Holly Everson-Bullock finally feels able to smile after undergoing grueling jaw-reconstruction surgery last December (pictured after the procedure)
Ms Everson-Bullock’s underbite jutted out over 1cm, causing her to endure bullying at school
Surgery to realign her jaw left Ms Everson-Bullock with severe swelling for months
WHAT IS AN UNDERBITE?
An underbite occurs when a person’s lower teeth and jaw protrude over their upper teeth.
This is usually inherited from a parent who also has the condition.
Other causes include thumb sucking, babies using dummies and prolonged bottle feeding.
Aside from a sufferer’s appearance, other symptoms can include headaches, poor self-esteem and teeth grinding or breaking.
Braces are the most common treatment but can make wearers, particularly children, feel self conscious.
Specially-made headgears can be effective but are highly noticeable and often uncomfortable.
In extreme cases, surgery to shave off the jaw bone is required as a last resort.
It is unclear how many people suffer from an underbite in the UK or US.
‘It didn’t make me feel attractive’
Ms Everson-Bullock first started to notice her underbite when she was 11, which caused her to feel attractive throughout her teens.
She said: ‘Having the underbite just didn’t make me feel very attractive. I used to wonder why my jaw was like this and why couldn’t it be normal.
‘I think I noticed it more than other people but I did get some nasty comments from people at school about my jaw who said it was weird.
‘I used to do acting a lot and have done it since I was young but I had to give it up as the underbite made it really difficult to talk.
‘I tried not to let my underbite stop me from doing things but if I went on a night out I was just really self-conscious of it, I thought people would notice it
‘If people took videos of me singing you could really see it and I didn’t like that at all.’
Ms Everson-Bullock struggled to pronounce words clearly, or eat properly, due to her mouth not closing properly.
She said: ‘It was struggle to eat. I couldn’t eat anything crunchy and I definitely couldn’t eat an apple normally and I had to cut a lot of food up.
‘I had to kind of hook it with my bottom teeth, if I did it any other way I wouldn’t get any of the actual apple, just the skin.’
Ms Everson-Bullock’s underbite made her feel unattractive, which shattered her confidence
Due to her mouth being unable to close properly, Ms Everson-Bullock struggled to eat and talk
Her jaw alignment left Ms Everson-Bullock unable to eat crunchy food, like apples and pears
Ms Everson-Bullock (pictured before) was self conscious of her jaw on night outs
She was forced to give up her love of acting due to her impaired speech (pictured before)
Ms Everson-Bullock (pictured before) was aware she noticed her underbite more than others
‘I couldn’t stop crying with happiness’
In the lead up to surgery, Ms Everson-Bullock had braces fitted to help align her teeth.
Ms Everson-Bullock said: ‘I was given braces in February 2016 to align my jaw ready for surgery. A month into having them I realised I was really struggling to adjust to them.
‘The underbite got worse which meant eating became even more difficult.
‘I went to a normal appointment for a checkup and alignment with my braces and my orthodontist told me that I was ready for surgery.
‘I was completely blown away when I was finally ready. I had been waiting for it for so long I couldn’t stop crying with happiness.
‘On the day of my surgery I was just ready to get it over and done with. In the weeks leading up to it I just wanted it to be done.
She said: ‘There was a bit of doubt and worry in my head but I tried not to let fear get in the way of things.
‘I tried to keep looking at it in a positive way and I didn’t want to panic too much.’
Ms Everson-Bullock barely recognised her severely swollen face after enduring surgery
Jaw realignment caused Ms Everson-Bullock’s eyes and nose to change shape
The swelling forced Ms Everson-Bullock to live off liquid-based foods for months
Severe swelling left Ms Everson-Bullock (pictured after) unable to talk for six weeks
Ms Everson-Bullock (pictured after) said she tried not to let her underbite hold her back
‘I finally have my smile back’
After surgery, Ms Everson-Bullock was shocked at how swollen her face was, saying: ‘My dad took a picture and showed me and I couldn’t believe it.
‘After the swelling had gone down a little I remember looking in the mirror and just being in disbelief.
‘It didn’t feel like me. My face had changed so much.’
Although Ms Everson-Bullock was surprised to find her nose and eyes altered slightly once her jaw was better aligned, she was eventually delighted with the results.
She said: ‘The first two-to-three months of recovery were quite difficult as I had to wait for the swelling to go down.
‘I couldn’t talk for six weeks which I found so difficult and I could only drink liquids, I couldn’t eat solid food.
‘Just over four months later the swelling has really reduced now and I finally have my smile back.
‘I bit into a pear for the first time the other day and I was so happy. It’s the little things that really make a difference.
‘My family, friend and boyfriend have been incredible throughout the whole journey and I can’t thank the surgical and orthodontic team at Gloucester Royal Infirmary enough.’
Ms Everson-Bullock (pictured after surgery) says she finally has her smile back
She has had braces fitted again to help better realign her teeth (pictured after)
Said the ‘little things’, such as being able to eat a pear, make a big difference (pictured after)
Ms Everson-Bullock (pictured after) says she is ‘so happy’ now she has her confidence back