« The Day Of The Dental-Lord Cometh »

You can read a bit of the backstory in an earlier blog on my theology of dentistry. That post was written a day or two before I went in and got a second go-around of under-the-gum scaling treatment, three years after the first round in mid 2004.

Well, my heart is in my throat again, and my stomach is in knots, with the Day of Reckoning just a few days off. This Friday is the first of two hemispheres’ worth of gum surgery to be done this month. It will be my Christmas present to myself, and perhaps what I deserve for being naughty all these years. There will be, to quote the Gospel of Matthew, “much weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Mercifully, there will be drugs too.

Theological implications aside, I wonder about how it will change me. On the physical level, with receded gums already a reality, I have to wonder what I shall look like with even “longer” teeth as the gums will be trimmed of their bad tissue, the bone reshaped some, and the roots planed while the gums are laid out like flaps, and ultimately the idea is to have the gums be able to be freshened up and able to cling better to thoroughly cleaned teeth. But they will cling lower to the bone and roots of the teeth, so my teeth will look longer. Ah, I can say that the age of 34 is when I officially became “long in the tooth.”

The other concern of mine is how this might change my speech, if at all. I’ve noticed already that certain syllables are harder to voice from what already seems to be a changed mouthscape after a cleaning which, combined with receding gums, opened up spaces where I didn’t know they existed. Certain syllables whistle with a bit of sibilance. So I don’t know how much this surgery will change things. I learned a bit in my voice class at Mesa how sounds are formed against hard and soft surfaces in the mouth, and surgery will change that ratio for me.

On Thanksgiving night, I found myself talking to a fellow partygoer who had this surgery done and he tried to put some comforting words out that if I really “got religion” and followed orders about regular care at home, the surgery would be a major help. Then a week later, I went to another dentist who confirmed the need for surgery but also took a fantastic amount of time to give me a good pep talk/counseling session.

So wish me luck on the Day of the Dental Lord. May he have mercy on my soul.

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