Have you ever bit into a really hot piece of pizza? You know, the kind of hot where the molten cheese cauterizes a part of your mouth leaving you with a painful hyper-sensitive spot for days to come. Well, I subjected myself to this fun little type of injury on purpose.
Twenty-five years of smoking (I quit 4 years ago), fast living, the 80’s, and basic rather than intensive dental care on my part had taken their toll. Constantly bleeding gums and loose teeth were the result and my personal phobia of people with bad teeth combined to freak me out. My dentist decided I needed a different level of dental care and sent me off to a specialist.
The specialist subjected me to a fun little procedure called ’scaling’. Basically an intense cleaning below the gum line. Not a whole lot of fun and, frankly, a bit messy. After several of these cleanings my new dentist informed me that he wanted to preform an additional procedure on me. His new plan was to cut off my gums (!), clean the roots of my teeth and then sew the gums back on. Pardon? The description of this procedure scared the shit out of me and then, to add insult, I was told that my first rate insurance wouldn’t cover it completely leaving me owing over $1500.
My dentist seemed a bit shocked when I said ‘no’ to his procedure and that I thought there had to be a better, less invasive, way. After a bit of waffling he admitted that there was another way but it would take a lot of work on my part. So, for the last 18 months I have had cleanings every 3 months and have overhauled my daily dental care regime. Flossing (everyday) followed by Listerine and then brushing. Yep, that’s the ‘hard work’ I had to do to avoid what I considered to be a really unpleasant procedure.
Earlier this year my dentist was almost ready to declare the infection below my gum line gone. Almost. The years of smoking had caused my gums to recede in places leaving one of my teeth in danger. He recommended a new procedure to help save the tooth (this time a procedure that my insurance would cover at 100%). His plan was to harvest some tissue from the roof of my mouth and graft the tissue onto the gum line of the endangered tooth. I steeled myself for what he described as ‘the world’s worst pizza burn’ and sat down yesterday in the chair for the work to be done.
Physically the grafting didn’t really hurt at all (unless you count being subjected to a radio station that insisted on playing too much Daughtry and Nickelback…) thanks to a lot of pain killing injections. Even those didn’t hurt thanks to a numbing swab done prior to the needles. Mentally the worst part was being aware of someone cutting a piece of you off. That took way too long although I’m sure it was done much quicker than I perceived it. An hour and a half later, slightly puffy and feeling abused, it was all over.
The rest of the day is a little fuzzy. The joys of Vicodin (ohh, look – tracers!) supplemented by massive amounts of Advil left me phasing in and out of awareness. Reading was out of the question but TV has been interesting as the shows have all blurred together (why were the Project Runway contestants cutting dogs hair?…). Having never taken Vicodin before I can understand it’s popularity. The dreaded ‘pizza burn’ has yet to materialize, not even a dull ache. Hopefully that will continue today as I wean myself off all the pharma.
The worst part? Other than being able to feel the stitches in my mouths is the food. Funny how much you crave bread or something crunchy when all you can have is soup, pudding, and mashed potato. Today I’m hoping to send M over to deLux or LuLu’s to get me a nice bowl of mac-n-cheese. I feel the need for something a bit more substantial.
Lessons for the day? I won’t preach about the dangers of smoking. I still miss it and probably wouldn’t have quit if Finn hadn’t some along. The receding gum thing caught me off guard. Hopefully that’s the my only take away from tobacco. Floss! Might’ve been able to avoid all this if I had. Question your doctor! I’m hesitant to say my dentist recommended the first procedure for monetary reasons. More than likely he was just looking for a quick fix thinking I wouldn’t be willing to make the effort. The sad part of that is the ‘quick fix’ is a big part of our culture here and I am not sure that is a good way to deal with our health issues.
Well, time for me to return to my fog and take another Vicodin… Pretty colours…