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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Gum Wrapper

On Saturday morning I woke up two hours earlier than usual—which is just wrong, given that there was no school that day. I was having a bad dream and could not fall back to sleep because I was obsessing about my gum graft surgery, scheduled for today.

I’m really nervous. The periodontist reassured me that this is a routine procedure, to which I responded with a raised eyebrow and a look. I reminded him that it’s not his mouth in question.

The gums surrounding my four middle teeth on my lower jaw are receding a bit. In order to protect the root and my health I need to have this procedure. The periodontist will take a piece of tissue from the roof of my mouth and attach it to the area behind my four lower teeth. I’ll give myself a gold star for being responsible and brave. (And I do recognize that I’m very fortunate to live in a country with great medical and dental care. So many people around the world don’t have access to that, and I’m grateful. But I’m still really scared!)

I joked with the periodontist that he’s not going to be my favorite person after this procedure. Nope. I’m going to hold a grudge! He’s very good (the only one my dentist recommended) and he’s going to wrap my gum and help my mouth. But I don’t have to like it!

Before last month I’m not sure I was even aware that gums could be grafted. I’m 41 and my mouth has been mostly a healthy place. Sure, a couple of crowns and fillings, but I’d never had to ponder gum grafts until recently. It makes me uncomfortable even saying that word (the G word). Maybe it makes this whole thing real. I think grafting is great—as long as we’re talking about citrus trees and the creation of a new hybrid fruit. This I am fine with, but grafting when it relates to my tissue (full body shudder)—not so much.

A year or two ago I blogged about a plumbing situation we had at our house. A giant hole was dug out front--something about a pipe and roots growing into it and lots of dollar signs. At the time I lamented that the most expensive things often seem to be the most boring things, but necessary. I think this applies to things like gum grafts. Mine will be on the inside of my lower teeth—a place no one will see, but it’ll cost! (My dental insurance does not cover this--surprise, surprise.) If I’m doling out big bucks to improve my body, I’d like the wrinkles gone and a more noticeable payoff for my payout. Sure, teeth and gums are important, but gums are not the most exciting area to repair.

Whatever you’re doing today, I hope it’s more fun than what I’m doing. Still, I’m in good hands and I’m grateful. And nervous (in case I didn’t mention that before). Sheeesh, all this responsible grown up stuff is no picnic. I’ll let you know how it goes. Keep your fingers crossed…

UPDATE: I am two hours post-surgery now. So glad to be home and doing my normal things (oh, except for taking loads of meds and steroids and antibiotics). I was so nervous during the procedure but I got through it. The waiting can be almost as awful as the actual procedure. It was no picnic. My mouth looks like Frankenstein's face, with stitches zigzagging here and there. The adrenaline poured through my system as the doctor did his thing. I could see him pulling the suture thread, and I could see my blood on his gloves. It's quite surreal to know that something major is happening to you--you may not feel it entirely, but you see the evidence and you feel pulling. Physically it's not great but the dreading was hard, too. I'm giving my poor, frazzled self an A+ for courage today...


  1. You deserve an A+++++! Nice work getting thru a scary, slightly bloody and potentially painful procedure! The mouth is a scary place to be hacking with, as far as I'm concerned. Soo glad you made it thru! (And I was told several years ago I might need a gum graft "soon", but so far it hasn't happened. I'll be comiserating with you soon, I am sure..)

  2. Thanks...I know it's not the biggest procedure out there but the idea of it scared me more than other surgeries I've had...