Posted by: Captain Easychord | August 17, 2009

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

Many people may dread Mondays (The Carpenters, Bangles and Boomtown Rats included), but I have next Monday circled on my calendar with gold stars and about 36 additional pieces of flair.  For it is a week from today when I get a bunch of stitches removed from my face.

You see, two Thursdays ago, I had gingival graft surgery in order to fix a receeding gumline caused by an irregular bite pattern (not by poor oral hygiene, thankyouverymuch).  The procedure itself is rather simple:  the periodontist peels your gums off the front of your teeth, cuts a chunk of skin off the roof of your mouth, sticks it back under the gums and sews it all back up.  Naturally, you’re shot up with local anesthetics first.  Nevertheless, it is a little spine-tingling to hear the sound of your gums being scraped off your teeth channeled up the bones into your ears and to feel your head being pulled ever so slightly to the side by the force of the skin being ripped from your palate… but I digress.

Since this was actually the second time I’ve had the procedure done in the last six months (once on each side), I had a pretty fair idea of what to expect going in.  And while the procedure itself involves the complete five-sensory assault of any significant dental procedure, I think the hard part may actually be the wait between surgery and the first post-operative visit.

In order to protect the surgical site, wax bandages are affixed to the inside of your mouth.  These bandages are to remain in place until the follow-up, usually two weeks later.  While they didn’t prevent me from waking up with the taste of blood in my mouth the morning or two after both procedures, the bandages do prevent you from doing things like eating on the impacted side of your mouth, eating “hard” foods such as chips or pretzels that might puncture or damage the bandage, and perhaps most of all:  brushing the teeth around the surgical site.  Oh, and this is all before mentioning the exercise restrictions, course of antibiotics and need to keep your head elevated during the recovery period.  While the surgery comes and goes, the effects linger for weeks… and in my case, an extra four days since the periodontist is on vacation this week.

That said, there is some good news on the horizon for future gingival graft patients.  Procedures in testing are using a platelet concentrate gel to eliminate the need to take graft tissue from the palate.  And if you’re the ironic sort like myself, you can listen to your iPod during the procedure complete with a synchronized playlist that includes tracks like Beck’s “Novocaine,” TMBG’s “Put Your Hand Inside The Puppet Head” and (at the end of the list), Three Dog Night’s “Joy To The World.”

As for me, I have one week left of wax bandages, stitches and trying to not accidentally brush the wrong teeth.  Are we there yet?!?


  1. […] on a brief hiatus.  The first missing Thursday, I was on vacation.  The week after that, I was having surgery.  After that… I was lazy… and I had so much to say (it was an eventful couple weeks!) […]

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