Friday
Jan042008

« The Exorcism: Epilogue »

Some of my die hard fans have been on the edge of their seats in suspense, with fan mail pouring in to find out how things have been since my entire mouth was exorcised of dental demons in December. The saga continues.

Just under a month since it began and about two and a half weeks since it concluded, my gum surgery has been more or less moving into the rear view mirror. I don't expect I'll forget this one. Every drink or bite that is cooler than room temperature is pretty damned painful since more of each tooth is exposed now, and the gums sit closer to the root crowns where the sensitivity is greatest. Yeah, so far every drink or bite that is colder than I am has reminded me of this. Not that there is a problem with lukewarm water. But there is a problem with lukewarm beer or lukewarm cottage cheese, or lukewarm ice cream! The beer and cottage cheese have been sampled, but I have yet to venture near the ice cream!

The surgeries were finally performed over four sittings, spaced across eleven days. That was perhaps closer than I might ever want to do things if I had to do it again. The second half of December got to hurting a lot, though I had a pretty fine meal on Christmas night, though it was a matter of going real slow and starting off so that nothing really had to be bitten into and torn, like I would if I had to eat a sandwich. The gums themselves stopped hurting reasonably fast; the bones are what reminded me of the work. It took most of the time up till a few days ago to feel like I could bite into anything with any power. So, for much of the last few weeks, I've been holding my jaw in just such a way that it wouldn't clench nor would it stretch anything. I feel my speech has been real lazy for this time since I was really limiting the range of motion. There were a few remaining sore points that had cold sores. I asked about those and they are normal parts of the process. They would sting a bit when confronted with certain foods and toothpaste. That's over with now, and the motion is back so I can stretch out and whatnot, though I am almost convinced that my teeth are in different places in the back left bottom. After a few weeks of not closing completely, or being on a painkiller or having ice on things (only on the day of surgery), I maybe forgot how top and bottom fit together, and maybe I am just rediscovering it now. But there is a distinct feeling that things are in different places. Odd. So I still refrain from clenching, and certain chewing is also awkward.

The gums themselves are healed up and shiny and new, with no signs of incisions or repairs. They don't hurt anymore. They sit lower on the teeth, and it is interesting to behold some of the openings between teeth now. I have found a number of syllables (and combinations thereof) to be hard to voice properly and in normal speech. The spaces leak a lot of air. The tongue also touches different surfaces now—more hard, less soft. Or, where it used to block a space between teeth, it might not now. I guess I'll have to do what my grandmother always told me to do better: enunciate. (An interesting byproduct of this increased leaky space is that fluids can take advantage of the openings too. Sometimes swishing makes me sort of a slob. But less so now that I can more confidently close down all the way.) The good news is swishing does a lot more good now that there are bigger spaces that can't hold food bits as well, so a lot of the stuff departs after a few good swishes. Flossing is far easier now, as it was expected. The dentist gave me a spiffy little bit of pipecleaner called an interdental brush, which is meant to do what floss can't do.

Considering this has been one of the few experiences in my life where I genuinely knew dread, it hasn't been as bad as I anticipated. Each day's surgery was sufficiently clotted and trouble free by the next day. The stitches dissolved on the most recent side and left no hassle except for dangling bits that had to be pulled like loose threads sometimes. I don't particularly recommend that you wait as long as I did to get your teeth cleaned, and I don't recommend letting it get as bad as I did. But I do feel better now.

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