Saturday, May 5, 2012


Before this year, the only surgery I'd ever had was to have my wisdom teeth taken out when I was in high school. Otherwise, I am generally pretty healthy and injury-free. Apparently things have changed in 2012, and we've never been so grateful to have such amazing insurance coverage.

Just a few months after my bunion surgery, I went in for *what I thought was* a regular check-up at the dentist. Growing up, I had all kinds of dental problems. I take really good care of my teeth but there's only so much you can do to fight your gene pool. Cavities, crowns, bonding, retainers, braces (twice)...I've just about had it all. Needless to say, I'm used to getting bad news from the dentist. I've had a clean record at the dentist for about 5 years now, so I guess I was long overdue for some bad news. Turns out I have extremely thin gum tissue, and in the six months since my previous appointment, one tooth went from perfectly normal to severely recessed. It was bad enough that my dentist referred me to a periodontist, who said I needed a tissue graft, ASAP.

This was right after surgery. Also sums up my feelings throughout the entire experience.

The most common question I've been asked is: what causes it / how does it happen? Basically, people want to know if it could happen to them. I just seemed to have all signs pointing towards an inevitable tissue graft. In my case, it was a combination of having naturally very thin gum tissue, having orthodontics, and brushing too hard. However, the main culprit was my bite - which was the primary reason I went to the orthodontist for so long but it was never really fixed correctly. Long story short, my teeth hit each other in the wrong spots, which causes stress/tension on those teeth and very subtly constantly moves them, which loosens the gums above those teeth and made them more susceptible to needing a graft. For the one tooth that had severely worsened since my previous visit, he said I may have eaten something sharp that triggered it, even though it was never painful. Who knows. I'm just glad my dentist caught it and made a recommendation for quick action.

Last Thursday I went in for oral surgery to fix it. He moved tissue from the roof of my mouth and placed it over four teeth that had gum recession, and stitched up some tissue that was becoming loose/sagging (!). Since multiple grafts are not pleasant, he had suggested we take care of a few other spots while he's in there. He basically stitched me up in four different places all over my mouth.

day after surgery

The best part about this surgery, especially compared to last time - is that there was no IV to knock me out. I hate medical stuff, especially needles, so this was quite a relief. They gave me three tiny pills to put underneath my tongue and they dissolved in about 15 minutes. The meds took away all anxiety and eventually knocked me out, for the most part. I didn't fully wake up during the procedure, but I do remember feeling part of it and the nurse wiping away my tears. (I don't think that is normal though, because I have a super-sensitive mouth and I am a total cry-baby when it comes to dental pain.) Otherwise, I don't remember anything until I woke up afterward and they put me in a wheelchair to take me out to the car where Bo was waiting for me. I felt pretty out of it on the way home, and kind of blacked out most of that evening as well. I took painkillers only for the first two days. After that, I wasn't really in any pain, I was just extremely uncomfortable.

Molly took good care of me :)

The worst part about this surgery is that I can't brush my teeth or floss until I go back in next Thursday for my post-op appointment. I have a crazy powerful mouth wash (it makes Listerine taste like water) that I use several times a day and it helps a lot, and I've gone through a ton of breath mints, but my mouth just still feels gross. Bo says my breath doesn't smell bad, but I am still very self conscious about it!

The other thing I did not like about this surgery was that it was extremely difficult to talk or smile. I looked and felt exactly like I had my wisdom teeth out again.

I'm also on a soft foods only diet for another week, which has its pros and cons. I've lost some weight which is good, but I have never been so hungry in my life. I can't have anything that needs to be chewed, so I've mainly been eating soup, pudding, jello, applesauce, mashed potatoes, milkshakes, and smoothies. I've also had mac and cheese once, and made an omelet yesterday. Any other suggestions are welcome. I've never been a dieter, so I am bored to death with these foods already. And my stomach growls non-stop.

I've almost perfected my milkshake recipe

They put in a retainer that I wore 99% of the time for the first week while the tissue on the roof of my mouth grew back and healed. I also have some kind of protective thing over the stitches on the graft spots, that I don't even have the courage to look at. They are supposed to fall out soon - not sure whether I am looking forward to that or not. When I go back in next Thursday they will take the dressings and stitches out, and I should hopefully be back to normal by then. I will also be cleared to eat regular foods, though will gradually phase things in to make sure I don't irritate anything. My chipmunk cheeks have already gone down significantly, and I can almost smile! When I sent a picture of my face to my dad he said it looked like I got punched in the face, like a boxer - which would have made a much better story than a tissue graft...

one week after surgery

As a surgery present, Bo traded in a few of his old video games to get the newest Mario Party 9 for Wii. I don't really like video games, but I do love our Wii and generally enjoy most of the games we have for it. Mario Party is by far my favorite, and this version is very different than the previous ones. I almost beat Bo on our first try! So, there is hope for me yet.

I also want to give another huge thank you for all the sweet messages and visits from friends that have definitely helped in the recovery process!

orchids from Lindsey

special ice cream from Lauren

favorite soup from Shara

I'm already feeling pretty normal, just anxiously waiting for next Thursday to get these stitches out and to start eating like a regular person again. I'm also hoping I don't have another surgery again for a very, very long time. Or ever.


  1. OMG I had know idea this was what the milkshakes were about! I am glad you are feeling better though and hope you are back to solid foods again soon :) If it makes you feel better, I hate the dentist too!!!!

  2. Oh my gosh, those must have been some powerful pills!!

  3. I can't believe you had ANOTHER surgery! I am so sorry LIsa :( That just plain sucks. Glad you had some people to take good care of you. Hopefully this will be the last one for a long while. You have had your fill for sure.


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