Probably Barbaric But Necessary

I responded to another gum graft article, but will now post my story here to share with others. It is probably considered a barbaric procedure by most people, but it is a necessary procedure. The option is losing your teeth completely. I have had a reasonably easy time of it, I think, but then again I recover from surgery or illnesses rather quickly. I go into things with a positive mind set of "This is going to be okay and I will do fine".  I have a great periodontist who is a perfectionist and very caring. He is (Dr. Sevor of Winter Springs) and he actually called me the night of the surgery to see how I was doing.  About 5 days ago on Wednesday March 21st I arrived for surgery at 1:30 in the afternoon.  My husband was told to wait for me as I would not be allowed to drive home. I was immediately taken to a dental chair and had an I.V. drip for sedation placed in my right arm.  That arm currently has a large bruise.  I am so happy I did not have novacaine shots in my mouth. I don't know that I could have handled that.  The sedation also included some pain killers and within seconds I was knocked out into a twilight sleep. This is what you need to ask for if you have this procedure. I would not want to see razor blades or big horse needles coming at my face. The next thing I know I was waking up at 6 p.m. on my couch at home. I do not remember getting in the car or laying on the couch. My husband said I mumbled things, but I don't remember that. I had gauze in my mouth collecting the blood that was leaking out of the grafted areas. I had to change that several times. I had grafts placed on four lower front teeth and the skin to graft came from the upper right side of my mouth. I can feel the stitches hanging down. I am told they will dissolve. I did not have any retainers or any putty stuff put on the grafted areas or on the incisions.  I think each Dr. is different. That first night I was really hungry since I had not been allowed to eat prior to being sedated. My mouth hurt to open it, but I needed something. I had some melted icecream which was good. I took one pain pill before heading to bed at 9 p.m. and I slept all night long. That has been the only pain pill I have taken. I took it mainly to sleep, not for pain. The next morning I had some applesauce and  a boiled egg that I smashed up very small. It was hard to eat because it is hard to open your mouth and anything touching the inside of your mouth hurts.  I then rinsed my mouth out with warm salty water. That feels good. I could drink some hot tea which was good since I needed my caffeine. I let the tea cool a little. By Saturday which was 3 days post graft on the 24th March I was running a 10k race ( 6.2 miles) in my hometown. People thought I was nuts to do it, but I had signed up a month ago and my husband and son were doing it so I asked the dentist and he said it was up to me. I have run races with a broken foot before so I didn't think it would be bad. I finished 10th in my age group and did well. That night I was so hungry from not eating much and from expending those calories running that I fixed the family a nice meatloaf and mashed potato dinner and I made a plate for myself. I didn't think I could eat any of it, but I was hungry for something other than applesauce or a boiled egg or icecream.   I covered the food with lots of gravy to soften it up and I ate the whole thing.  It was good to eat some real meat. I had eaten a can of Tuna smashed up the day before with some help from my three cats, but being able to eat some meat-meat was excellent. Today is Monday and 5 days post graft. I am still sticking with soft foods as I would hate to damage the graft areas. I will tell you that you get sick of eating icecream though.  Never thought I would say that.  I am allowed to brush my teeth but I must be careful.  I must stay away from the grafted areas. I cannot wait to be able to truly brush and floss. I go back to the periodontist tomorrow for a check up and I hope he says it is healing nicely. I have heard that some grafts don't take and have to be re-done. I hope that is not my case. I look in the mirror and I see gum where none was before, but some areas look greyish whitish. I don't know what that is, but my husband says it looks better every day. My periodontist told me that gum recession does not mean a sign of bad dental hygiene, it can be genetic and from brushing too hard.  I have always taken care of my teeth and floss every single day, but I still have gum recession. I am going on a cruise in 4 weeks and I plan to hit every buffet and eat a lot. Being that I am a runner and am not able to eat much I have lost about 3-4 pounds in the past 5 days. I don't recommend this procedure to help with weight loss............But to save your teeth YES. The procedure sounds barbaric, but it is not as bad as you might think. Ask for an I.V. sedation and get knocked out completely. I would check around for a periodontist that does the I.V. sedation because after speaking with several people that did not have I.V. sedation I believe I was one of the lucky ones.

UPDATE: Day 6 and my first visit back to the periodontist since surgery.  He said it all looks good, some stitches have not dissolved yet. Gums look a little redder than should be so he gave me some amoxicillan which is an antibiotic. He wants to be on the safe side. I was also given a very soft toothbrush and some extra sensitive toothpaste. I can brush all my teeth now which I did as soon as I got home. The brush feels like a feather on my teeth, that is how soft it is. I still can't eat hard type foods. I must stick to soft foods for another few days. He said I will be able to tell when the time comes that I can eat other things. I go back again in 3 weeks which will be two days prior to my cruise so I hope I am back to normal then.

In regards to the Dr who wrote about I.V sedation. Thank you for your comments and concerns. My periodontist has three offices here in the Orlando area and I believe he knows what he is doing. I was monitored the entire time. After I read your comment I clicked on Google and read about I.V. sedation and found that most periodontists offer I.V sedation. In fact it states that I.V sedation is very safe and is offered to most patients. There are Periodontists listed on google in Colorado, Washington state and Oregon and Pennsylvania and Florida  that offer it. I dont believe it is as unusual as you say it is. I suggest you may want to read more about it. I want to make sure that anyone thinking of I.V sedation is not scared away from it because of your mention of possible complications. I am greatful my Periodontist uses it. As we all know, there are risks with anything, even novacaine injections. Thank you again for your comments because every comment that is posted and receives an answer will help another person on this site learn something.


Runner Runner
51-55, F
3 Responses Mar 26, 2007

Eh... It's up too your Perio about risks. He has to pay his insurance bill, and isn't going to do something stupid.<br />
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That toothbrush!!!!! You are the first person who I have talked to who has used it, and I have too, and I LOVE IT! <br />
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I seriously descirbed it in allmost the same way-- I think it's like a butterfly flapping it's wings on your teeth :)<br />
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Go the nimbus toothbrush for post-surgery!

Highly unusual?? Not here. All the periodontists in this town offer IV sedation. I had it for both of my gum graft procedures. You may think it's unnecessary (and apparently so does my insurance), but I'm SO glad it's available. Just curious, what kinds of risks are you talking about? I did a fair amount of search the web on the subject and don't remember reading anything that jumped out at me.

it is highly unusual to get IV sedation for this - as an ICU doctor, I can say it is completely unnecessary and I am pretty sure no one else (at least on this site) has gotten it - also note that IV sedation carries many risks with it that a periodontist is not trained to handle -

It IS highly unusual for IV sedation to be given for such a simple procedure where I live, too. I just had this procedure two days ago, and I cannot imagine going through the whole IV sedation and the hours and hours of recovery versus a few shots in your mouth and an hour and a half later being able to just walk right out of the perio office like I did. IV sedation, to me, is WAY more scary than just a little old shot in the roof of your mouth.