Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Periodontist Complete

The Monday following Thanksgiving (2012) I went to have a gum graft done.  I had never heard of this before but when I went to the dentist in October for my regular 6 month cleaning it was recommended that I go in and see the Periodontist.  The gum line on my bottom teeth was receding due to a combination of brushing too hard and amount of tartar my mouth produces.

First thing on Monday morning I walk to the appointment.  It is nearly 50 degrees out and about 2 miles away.  I check-in and notice that not only is it quiet for 9:00am but no one else is in the waiting room.  I guess no one else wanted to have such an exciting procedure done right after Thanksgiving.  I am escorted to the room by the assistant, I know that is not her proper title.  She is wearing a uniform and was assisting the doctor.  I sit in the chair and prepare for Novocaine.  The assistant did ask me how I was doing and if I was ready.  I told her I was nervous.  This will be my first experience with novocaine.

The doctor applies with a q-tip a mint or peppermint jel to the roof of my mouth, where the graft will be taken and then places it between my lip and bottom gum.  It was mentioned that mint gel has a little of a natural numbing tendency.  The doctor explains that he will be taking gum from the roof and attaching it to the bottom.  The roof of the mouth will be done by creating a pocket so that the flap can be placed back over the "hole."  The gum will be attached on the bottom by sewing.

He proceeds with a Novocaine injection at the roof of the mouth.  It didn't hurt as much as I thought.  The first Novocaine injection on the button gum line didn't hurt too much but then the second and third injection on the bottom gum line sort of hurt.  The doctor was nice enough to tell me that is as much "discomfort" as I am going to feel during the rest of the procedure.  I took that as no more discomfort and no more injections. That was four for someone who hasn't experienced Novocaine before.  I was incorrect....as far as no more injections.  I believe that it is possible that I had a total of 10 Novocaine injections.  However that could be incorrect as I closed my eyes quiet frequently to try to relax and "zone out."

When I opened my eyes and saw the needle coming towards the gums again I asked "more, really?!"  He said "yes, but you shouldn't be feeling anything."  I wasn't however I was surprised it was taking so much.  If I recall correctly is was explained to me that little injections help numb up a little area at a time so that further injections can be done without discomfort.  I interpreted that to mean if I one big injection was given at a time I would have been in discomfort longer and it would have taken longer for the "numbing" effect to take place.

I was asked to tilt my head back more so my chin was up.  The doctor was going to start on the pocket and retrieval of gum from the roof.  I closed my eyes to try to relax.  The smell was something I remember besides the injection and feeling like I had a fat lip.  It was not pleasant.  I am not even sure how the cut was being made.  I don't think he used a scalpel.  I should have asked.  I didn't feel anything and I wasn't in pain.

I opened my eyes and saw him take the flap of gum and lay it on the tray in front of him.  He got some other things together and then proceeded to pick up the gum to prepare to attach to the lower teeth.  I closed my eyes again to try to relax and he started sewing.  I am not sure how many stitches it took or how exactly he was stitching it on.  I remember the assistant saying at one point "almost done."

I opened my eyes when I heard him placing utensils on a tray.  He grabbed something then started to firmly press the thing on the roof of the mouth. I chuckled a little bit.  He grabbed another thing and than started "smushing" (for lack of the proper term) it around with the bottom lip.  I chuckled even harder.  Using a numb lip to help adhere or stick something just felt weird.  At this point the doctor told me I had a "sick sense of humor."  I told him I couldn't help it that felt funny.  He looked at me and said "you have had Novocaine before?"  I told him no.  He said "AAHHH, that explains your nervousness and silliness."  He looked at his assistance and said "I don't think we could have done the procedure any differently if we had known before we started."  I knew.

After the procedure the assistant lets me see what I think is a band-aid.  She told me not to pull at the lip and to eat soft foods today.  No raking leaves or major house cleaning.  I am just to rest.  At that point I inquire about walking home however that was not allowed.  The doctor has the secretary call the nearest pharmacy for my prescription of acetaminophen with codeine and a mouth rinse.  I request a cab to be called to get prescriptions and go home.   The assistant then proceeds to tell me I should sleep on my back with two pillows on either side.  I shouldn't roll so as not to break or shake the graft loose.

The doctor comes back into the office and he explains some more things.  And then hands me a pamphlet.  He also was nice enough to give me his cell phone number in case I had any problems.  He explains that the longer the bandages stay on the more comfortable I will feel and I am not to brush my teeth for the rest of the day.

The secretary was nice enough to drop me off at the pharmacy to get the prescriptions and to take me home.  I get some things done at the house and then start to get tired.  I spent the rest of the day on the couch.  I only drank for the rest of the day; juices, water, shakes.  The numbness didn't start to ware off until about 1 or 2pm in the afternoon.  I did take my first pill at noon so that was a good head start on any major discomfort.

I just hung out on the couch.  I didn't do much of anything.  I was unable to take a nap.  The doctor called me later in the evening to check on me which I thought was great!  I am appreciative when people are extra courteous.  When I had my wisdom teeth removed the doctors office called my parents in the evening to see how I was doing.

I think in total I took 4 maybe 5 pills.  That is all I needed.  The bandage at the roof of the mouth came off after 3.5 days.  I was surprised but it wasn't a band-aid.  It was a silly putty type of a thing.  Below is a picture of what the site looked like and what the putty looked like.

I believe the "bandage" would have stayed on longer if I hadn't used a straw to drink for those three days.  I think the pressure from the sucking caused the bandage to fall off sooner.  I wasn't in any discomfort and you can see there wasn't any bleeding so I didn't call the doctor.

Laughing and crying kind of bothers the lip and whenever I move the lip just right, for example when I get startled.  Food is more than just juice and shakes.  I am eating steamed/boiled/soft veggies and pasta.

Eight and a half days after surgery I took another picture of the roof of the mouth.  The bandage of the bottom jaw was still on.  Here is what the roof looked like.

The following week while I was brushing my teeth I noticed a significant amount of blood.  I got very nervous.  I stopped brushing my teeth and had hubby take a look.  He said that there was no blood.  I then took a look and I didn't see anything either.  Nathan thought I might have brushed/hit a blood pocket.  I didn't have or notice any bleeding after that.

I am eating more soft foods now.  Soup, quiche, fish, ground turkey, roasted veggies along with boiled/steamed veggies, pasta and shakes still.

I went in for the 2.5 week checkup and the doctor took the bandage off on the bottom jaw.  He said everything looked great.  He wiped the area down a little.  He then took a look at the roof of the mouth and he was happy with the way it was healing.  I am able to brush the teeth now including the graft site,  No more restrictions on food.  Music to my ears :)

Fast forward to a month and a half after the procedure.  You can barely notice the scar at the roof of the mouth.  The doctor did mention that the graft was not the color he would have liked or hoped for but there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with the function of it so he was sending me on my way and calling me good.  He was going to send a note to the dentist office to let them know.  I asked if there was anything that I could do to help with the color and he said no.  I asked if it was something to be concerned about and he said no.  Okay so I am not going to worry.  I can feel it when I move the lower lip just right, so I don't think that there is anything wrong.  Below is a picture of both the roof of the mouth and the graft site today.


Angel Productions said...

Hello, do you have an email in which I can contact you about this procedure, I had a similar thing done in which I would like some info on if you have a moment.


Rikki said...

Hello Angel!

I apologize I didn't see your comment sooner :( If I can still help answer any questions please don't hesitate to e-mail me; rikkiwinters[at]gmail[dot]com.