Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese


I’m a Frankestein’s Monster

So I got a gum graft this morning. I’ve been putting it off since forever ago when my dentist said my gum line was receding on the lower left side of my mouth on a tooth near the back. Basically, the root of the tooth was slowly being exposed and ultimately that would just lead to the root rotting and no one wants that. I looked into an alternative procedure, but then it turned out that the alternative procedure is pretty much what my periodontist does but using cadaver tissue instead of your own tissue (which is an option with my perio1 as well), but some guy gave it a fancy name and patented it. So anyway, after looking into that and deciding it wasn’t worth it, I put off booking the actual surgery for ages because (a) it didn’t sound that fun and (b) my insurance doesn’t cover the procedure (apparently Pacific Blue Cross is the only insurance that doesn’t cover it – lucky me) and I did not like the idea of spending $1400 on this rather than any number of other $1400 purchases I would have preferred to make. What finally got me to do it, though, was the realization that since I had to spend a bunch of money out of pocket for physio on my hip in the fall (as my physio allotment of my insurance got used up pretty quick), if I did the gum graft within 12 months of the physio, I could lump the receipts together and they will probably add up to a high enough amount that I can claim them on my taxes. And so I found myself in the periodontist’s chair this morning.

Not thrilled to be getting a gum graft

As you can see, I’m not thrilled to be sitting in this chair

The procedure was fairly quick and pretty much painless other than the needle to do the freezing2. They also put a blood pressure cuff on me, which inflated every 15 minutes during the pressure just to make sure it wasn’t going crazy – and I hate blood pressure cuffs! They make me feel all claustrophobic and when I can start to feel my blood pumping, I get queasy3. Ugh! Once everything was frozen, I could only feel a bit of pressure here and there, and it was weird to see someone sewing stitches in my mouth! Basically, they cut out a bit of tissue from the roof of your mouth, sew that incision up, then open up a little pocket in the receding gum and stuff the tissue inside there, and then sew that up. And that’s it. She did also put a “bandage” on the roof of my mouth to protect that cut – it feels like a little pack of putty. It sort of protects that cut – I imagine without it, I’d just be running my tongue on those stitches, like you do when you burn the roof of your mouth! Before the surgery, they gave me some Advil and Tylenol and then said to take an Advil every 2 hours today4, and then just as needed for any pain tomorrow. My jaw is a bit achy, but that doesn’t bug me too much. I was worried there would be sharp pain in the roof of my mouth, as I’ve heard from other people who have had gum grafts, but so far, knock on wood, I’m OK. I can deal with just achy (so I’m hoping it stays at just that!). The periodontist also said I might have a bruise on my cheek, but one hasn’t developed yet. I guess we’ll see how I look in the morning.

Today I had to take it easy and for the next week or so I have to eat only on the right side of my mouth. I can brush my teeth except for the ones where the graft was, and I have to swish around a special rinse after that to keep the wounded parts clean. The perio even said that I can play my hockey game tomorrow night5, so I should probably get a good night’s sleep!

  1. And, in fact, my friend Rick is getting a gum graft done using cadaver tissue, so he is going to be a real Frankenstein’s monster. Or perhaps a chimera. I haven’t been to periodontal school, so I’m not sure which of those is technically correct, though I’m sure it must be one of them. []
  2. The only painful part was paying the bill! []
  3. On the plus side, my blood pressure was good – about 109/60, which is a bit high for me (I’m usually around 90/60), but way below the normal of 120/80 and also I was having surgery! []
  4. Which I kept forgetting to do, so it’s been more like every 3-4 hrs. []
  5. I thought she would say not to, as the written material I got before the surgery said I shouldn’t engage in any physical activity for 48 hours, but she said that the written material is very conservative – she said that they don’t want you to raise your blood pressure in the first 12-24 hours while the initial healing is taking place, but after that I’m fine to play hockey!)

    Sadly, I didn’t get any gruesome photos like I did that time I got crowns and veneers done, because there really wasn’t anything gruesome to see. I kind of wish I could see what the stitches look like, but the periodontist said not to try to pull at my lip to look at what’s going on with the wound (like many people do) as it will only disrupt the site and delay healing/screw up the graft and after $1400, I’m not risking that, no matter how many cool looking stitches I’m missing out on seeing.

    Anyhoo, I suppose I should take my last Advil for the day and hit the hay. Tomorrow is my first day back at work after two weeks of holidays ((Which I’ll blog about soon! []


Kitty Dentistry

When Watson & Crick went to the vet a few months ago (because Watson had an irritated eye), the vet noted that they both had a fair bit of tartar and some gingivitis, so she recommended a cleaning1, but noted that because February is pet dental health month, I’d get a discount if I brought them in this month. So yesterday we went off to the vet’s office for their first dental cleaning2. In order to do a dental cleaning, cats are put under general anesthetic3. Prior to this visit, I’d had to take Watson in for an ultrasound of his heart, as he has a heart murmur4, but the vet said he was OK to get the general anesthetic.

Happily, both kitties did just fine under the anesthetic, but while Watson just needed the cleaning, poor Crick needed some more extensive work. Apparently one of her front canine teeth5 was fractured! The vet said that it can happen from a cat running around and crashing into stuff or sometimes just from jumping and landing too hard. And Watson does like to chase Crick around, so I could totally see her knocking into something as she was running away from him6 She also had a resorptive lesion in one of her premolars – basically, there was a hole in the enamel that is just asking for bacteria to get in and cause an infection. The lesion was just below the gumline, so you wouldn’t be able to actually see it. Both of the bad teeth were on the same side and the vet said that you could see there was more tartar build up on the opposite side, meaning that she’s been eating her food on that side of her mouth because her bad teeth were probably hurting. So poor Cricky required an extraction of the canine and a crown amputation of the pre-molar.

Since the kitties had been under general anesthetic, they spent a few hours in the vet’s office to recover. Watson had his cleaning first and apparently once he woke up he was distraught and inconsolable until he saw Crick. I’m not sure if he was just scared to be alone in an unfamiliar place while he was feeling all weird from the anesthetic or if he was worried about his sister. He is a scaredy cat, so it was probably the former.

Watson says, "What up, girl?"The cats each had a different reaction to the anesthetic. Once Watson had calmed down because he could finally see his sister, he had the typical reaction of just wanting to sleep. Crick, on the other hand, was bouncing off the walls. Even when I picked them up, Watson was just chill in his cat carrier on the way home (he usually spends the whole time in his cat carrier crying about the injustice of being in a cat carrier), but Crick was super fidgety. When we got back to the condo, both cats were happy to home, but were very upset with me for not feeding them immediately. They hadn’t eaten since dinner the previous night (since you have to fast before you go under anesthetic because anesthetic can make you barfy) and they weren’t allowed to have food until 8 pm so that all the anesthetic would be out of their system, and we got home around 4 pm. The cats spent a lot of time standing around looking at their empty food dish and then going to the kitchen to stare at the cupboard where I keep their food.

CrickCrick also has drugs she has to take for the next few days. Buprenorphine (an opioid for pain) and metacam (an anti-inflammatory). Her first dose of metacam isn’t until tonight, but she has to take her opioid every 12 hours and she absolutely hates it! I have these little pre-filled syringes that I have to squirt in her mouth, but she tries to keep her mouth shut and hide her head in my lap. I try to tell her it will make her feel better, but she just wants to say no to drugs. Fortunately, I can just squirt the metacam onto her food and apparently it just has a little bit of a sweet taste, so it shouldn’t turn her off the food. The trick will be to watch her eat and make sure that Watson doesn’t try to steal her drugged food!

The good news we got at the vet was that both kitties have lost some weight! Both of them need to lose a few pounds – when we were at the vet a few months ago, Watson weighed 12 lbs and Crick was 14 lbs, so I’ve been making an effort to weigh their food so they aren’t getting too much, to take away leftovers (as Crick would feast on Watson’s leftovers – hence why she weighed 2 more pounds than him), and bring out the laser pointer at least once a day to get them running around. When Scott’s over, he plays with them several times a day with the laser pointer, so that’s helped for sure! Watson has lost more weight as he occasionally chooses to eat a bit less and he chases the laser pointer more. He’s down to 10.8 lbs and Crick is now 13.5 lbs.

Anyway, the kitties both seem to be doing well, so while I’m down $1300 (eep!), at least I know that everyone has a healthy mouth!


  1. And we know that dental health in humans is important to overall physical health, so why wouldn’t it be the same in cats? []
  2. At least their first one since I’ve had them. []
  3. There is one company in Vancouver called Meow Maids that will come to your house and clean your cats’ teeth without putting them under, but when I emailed them they very curtly told me that they don’t travel to New Westminster (because I suppose a 30 minute drive is just insurmountable). And then ignored my follow up email asking if they knew of any other companies that would provide such a service in my area. I know a lot of people love Meow Maids, but I have to say, I was not impressed with their rudeness! []
  4. I was told that Watson had a heart murmur when he had his two week-post adoption check up at a different vet, but at that time there was no need to further investigate it, as we weren’t doing anything else. This time they wanted to check it out before they put him under, but said it was just a few little abnormalities and he should be fine under anesthetic. I honestly have no idea if this kind of thing is just a cash grab, but I couldn’t put him under and not have done the ultrasound, because what if something happened while he was under and I hadn’t done the test first?? []
  5. Does it strike anyone else as funny to think that cats have canine teeth? []
  6. It also made me think of something Cath said about her cat having a messed up tooth: “She was probably trying to eat a brick or something.” []


To Gum Graft or Not To Gum Graft?

ToothSo the verdict is in from my dental insurance company and they are not going to cover a gum graft because apparently they want my teeth to fall out. As I was pondering on The Twitter (and consequently The Facebook, since all my Twitters go to my The Facebook) about whether I should drop $1400 out-of-pocket on this apparently painful procedure, a friend of mine suggested looking into something called the Pinhole Surgical Technique (PST), which is apparently a new alternative to gum grafts.

So I googled and found the website of the guy who invented the Pinhole Surgical Technique, which I learned involves making a hole in your gum, shifting the existing tissue around a bit, and inserting some collagen strips to promote the gums to grow some more collagen and then you end up with your gums being in the correct place. It’s less invasive (you don’t have to have tissue cut out of the roof of your mouth, have your gums cut to have that tissue put in there, and then have a bunch of stitches holding it all together.). The guy who invented it has been doing it since 2006 and published the procedure in a dentistry journal in 2012.

So my problem now is – how can I tell if this really is as good as it sounds? Obviously the inventor of this procedure is trying to sell it – both to clients (to create a market for it) and to other dental professionals (to pay him to train them). I don’t know anything about dentistry, so I don’t even know if the journal in which that study is published is really “one of the most respected journals in dentistry”, as stated on the PST website.

Through further googling, I have discovered that there are some people locally who do this procedure, so I suppose I could go to one of them for a consultation, but I feel like they are just going to say I should do it, since they will make a bunch of money if I do.

Does anyone know any good dental professionals that would be able to provide some unbiased advice on this?

Image Credit: Posted by Luke Siemens on Flickr with a Creative Commons license.



At my last dentist appointment, my dentist gave me a referral to a periodontist because apparently my gum is receding on one of my molars, so she thinks I should get a gum graft.

I went to the Perio appointment yesterday morning and as I drove up to the office I had an uncanny feeling I’d been there before. But it turns out that it was a canny feeling, because I *have* been there before. In 2012.  Apparently when I had my braces, my orthodontist referred me there for an exam just to make sure my gums were OK during the ortho treatment. I had no recollection of this and even after seeing my original patient intake form (which they had me update in case info had changed, which it totally had) and the Xrays they took while I was there, I still have only the vaguest recollection of this. Apparently my memory is receding along with my gum line.

Anyway, the perio’s assessment was that my gum on the molar my dentist was referring to is receding, slowly but surely, and the molar behind it is starting to as well. She stressed that it was nothing I was doing wrong, my mouth is super duper healthy and well taken care of, just a result of anatomy and the unavoidable wear and tear of living. Her recommendation is to do the graft, though she said it’s not an emergency – everything is stable now, but it will continue to recede, and even though it’s a slow recession, eventually it will be problematic.

So I’ve asked them to do a preapproval with my dental plan – the receptionist said plans don’t usually cover gum grafts, but mine says something about covering a periodontist doing a tissue graft, which sounds like the same thing to me, so I figured I’d get them to find out for sure. Especially because it will cost more than $1300 and I’d pretty much rather do anything with $1300 than spend it on mouth surgery. $1300 would buy a nice holiday. Or would look really good coming off my mortgage. Or would be fun for the cats to play with. Seriously, giving my cats $1300 in cash for them to chew up seems like a more enjoyable use of $1300.

Anyhoo, I guess I’ll find out in a few weeks if my insurance company will foot the bill for this. And if I end up getting it, perhaps I’ll post some gross photos like I did when I had my last dental surgery!


Show You My Teeth

First of all, you should listen to this song as you read this blog posting. Now that you all have that song stuck in your head, let me tell you about my teeth.

Today was the day where I spent 5 hours in the dentist’s chair getting 3 crowns, a veneer, and some bonding done. The appointment went pretty much as the dentist said it would – I had a blanket and my headphones on so I could listen to podcasts1 and while I couldn’t fall asleep like I was hoping2 to, it was pretty much relaxed as it could be given that I had one billion giant needles stuck in my gums3 and then giant portions of my dead teeth shaved down to stumps on which my crowns were placed.

Speaking of which, I have a horrifying photo of myself in the middle of my appointment where my tooth stumps are exposed, before they put the temporary crowns on. Generally, I’m not one to put horrifying photos of myself on the interwebs, but this one is just too fascinating to not share with you. See how much I care about you, blog reader?

Now, before you look at it, please appreciate that I’m (a) not wearing any makeup, (b) sitting at a terrible angle for photo taking, (c) unable to move my face due to the aforementioned one billion needles, (d) covered in various dental apparatus, and (e) only showing you this for educational purposes and will never be seen with such teeth stumps ever again.



OK, so now that you have a Lady Gaga song stuck in your head AND you are emotionally scarred for life from having seen that photo, let’s move on to what I actually look like now. And, in fact, I would like your advice. The teeth you are about to see are my temporary crowns – I get to test drive them for a week to see how I like them and then once I get them how I want them, they’ll make them up as permanent crowns.

Now, you have to ignore the colour of these, as the temporary crowns are just made to test out length and shape, as they don’t have as many colours available in the acrylic that they make the temps out of as they do the porcelain that they’ll make the permanent ones out of. Also, pay not attention to my bruised gums – that’s from all the work they did in my mouth today, not from some horrible degenerative gum disease or anything. So ignore the fact that the teeth are blindingly white and don’t match my other teeth, and ignore my blackened gums, and just focus on the shape:


What do you think?

Personally, I don’t like the gap in the middle of the two front teeth at the bottom. The model that they showed me that I originally agreed to do not have this gap, so I’m not sure why that was done (I also didn’t really get a good look at them until I was home, as I was a bit too freaked out by the fact that, in the light of the dentist’s office, you can actually kind of see through the acrylic to the stumps underneath, to really closely examine the shape of the crowns). I also don’t like the waviness of bottom of the two front teeth – I want it to be flat straight across, like the bottom ones (and like they were in the original model they showed me).

They also put the points back on my canines4 and I think those look OK.

But what do you think? Does anyone have any suggestions of anything else I should change about these? I have an appointment in one week to bring my feedback to my dentist.

Also, as an added bonus for reading through all this, here’s the first photo of me in forever where I’m smiling and you can actually see my teeth:


Don’t mind my messy hair – I’d just come back from a post-dentist 13 km run and was too lazy to dry my hair after my shower, so it air dried all haphazard like – or the bags under my eyes, which are entirely school’s fault.

  1. Coincidentally, I happened to listen to a few episodes of the Savage Lovecast and one of the callers was calling in to ask advice about her fetish for going to the dentist. And I’m sitting in the dentist chair thinking, “To each their own and all… but I really cannot imagine being excited about sitting in a dentist chair!” []
  2. But not really expecting []
  3. After the needles, most of which I couldn’t even feel because freezing from the needle for one tooth spreads far enough to freeze the place where the next needle goes in, I was totally shaky and my heart was racing. So it appears my needle phobia is still with me. []
  4. I seriously considered Dave’s suggestion that I get retractable fangs, but in the end decided that it just wasn’t worth the extra cost. []



Hey, remember that time that I had braces? And then decided that I should complete the job and get some restorative dentistry done to prettify my teeth? Well, I finally got around to get everything in order for that and have even had the necessary models made up.

This is a model of what my teeth look like right now:


You can see that my front teeth are shorter than they should be – worn away over the years due to being dead for so long, and from the fact that when I smashed them up as a kid, there were giant chips in them that have been filled in with whatever substance it is that they use to fill in chips in teeth. That substance seems to wear away much easier than an actual healthy tooth would. You can also see a ridge on the right front tooth1 – that’s where the chip was filled in. It wasn’t really a very smooth job that was done to fill it in, clearly. You can also see a chip in the tooth just to the left of my left front tooth and my canines (especially the right one) are pretty flat, rather than having a little bit of a point that the canines naturally have.

After making the model of the current state of my teeth, the lab also made up a model of what my new teeth will look like:


Notice how they are all even and suchlike? And they’ll also be stronger than my current zombie teeth.

The next step is to actually go in and have my teeth “prepped” – where they shave down the dead teeth to put the crowns on and then install some crowns that I try out for about a week or so to make sure that I like them. That appointment will take five hours! Five! Hours! This totally does not sound like any fun at all – I am impatient at the best of times and even a short wait for something makes me think “I could be using this time to be so much more productive!” But I guess one must suffer for beauty!

The dentist advised me to wear something comfy and bring my iPod with stuff I want to listen to and then they wrap me up in a blanket and I have to sit in that dental chair for, did I mention?, five hours while they work in my mouth. I’ve booked it for a Monday after a weekend when I have classes2 – I’m hoping that I’ll be tired enough to actually take a nap during all of this. That’s totally likely, right?

Unrelated: Apparently my previous blog posting was my 2300th blog posting. That is a lot of freaking blog postings.

  1. And a red pen mark, which isn’t actually on my real tooth! []
  2. In mid-April. []


Why My Teeth Are Like Zombies

tooth and frog

I have no idea why this tooth has his arm around a confused frog. Nor why the tooth has teeth.

So last week I went to the periodontist. I’m considering getting some dentistry done to prettify my teeth and my dentist thought it would be advisable for me to get examined by a periodontist – a dentist who specializes the bone and tissues that support the teeth – given my “history of trauma” (i.e., the fact that three of my teeth1 were root canaled 20+ years ago after I smashed them up by running face first into a jungle gym) and my recent orthodontics. Essentially the perio is in agreement with my dentist – and my orthodontist, now that I think about it. The roots on the teeth that were root canalled are shorter than normal and so those teeth will eventually fail, which will require me to get an implant2, but given that I’ve kept my mouth in relatively good shape, this isn’t necessarily going to happen soon. In addition, these teeth are fugly – they are discoloured3, uneven4, and you can even see cracks running through them.

It seems that the best course of action is to put crowns on the three root canalled teeth, as it will make them look nice instead of decrepit and, importantly, will provide some structural integrity, which should help me keep those teeth5. A fourth tooth – the one to the right of my two front teeth – will need a veneer so that it will match the other three. The crowns sort of freak me out, because they will require shaving down my actual teeth to little stumps, onto which a crown is placed. But when I remind myself that these three teeth are dead anyway – they’ve been sticking around in my face for many years, not unlike a horde of zombies roaming through a post-apocalyptic landscape! – I think it makes a lot of sense.

The whole thing is going to cost me a bomb, as my dental plan will only cover a portion of the work. But I figure I’ve already blown a bunch of cash on the braces, so I may as well finish the job! I’ll be teaching my stats course in the January to April term, and that will more than cover the cost.

The next step is to book the actual appointments to get this work done, which I think I’ll set up for January, as December is jam packed with work and school deadlines6.

Image Credit: Posted by Divine Harvester on Flickr.

  1. My two front teeth, plus the one just to the left of my two front teeth. []
  2. CYBORG BETH!! []
  3. Due to the fact that they are dead and have been for two decades. []
  4. Due to the fact that they were severely chipped in my accident, and were “fixed” up by various dentists putting in various materials to fill in said chips. []
  5. Where by “teeth”, I mean the roots and the bits that remains on which the crowns will sit. []
  6. Related: How the hell is it December NEXT WEEK? []


Look Ma, No Braces!

Hey, remember that time I got braces? Well, fast forward sixteen months, and now I have straight teeth!

Teeth With No BracesIt’s true. I got my braces off on Monday, two months earlier than the original estimate of 18 months. And Monday night I flossed my teeth and it didn’t take me 15 minutes! Hell, it didn’t even take me 5 minutes!

I never did get quick at flossing my teeth with braces. You have to tie the floss to a threading device and then thread the floss through the braces wire for each individual tooth. And it took FOREVER! But now, with no braces – flossing is a breeze! So. Freaking. Excited!

After they took my braces off, they made impressions of my teeth, which they then used to make retainers. The retainers are just these tiny little pieces of clear plastic in the shape of my teeth that I snap on. I have to wear them 24 hours a day for 7 days, but after that, I only have to wear them at night. So far, they are actually making my teeth a little achy, but a coworker of mine who got her braces off a bit before I got mine off said that’s normal and it will go away in a few days once I get used to them. And honestly, it’s worth it to be able to smile without worrying that everyone is going to see my snaggly teeth.

Now I just need to save up to get some restorative dentistry done to cover up the discolouration, cracks, and wear on my root canaled front teeth and I’ll have the prettiest smile in town!


The End Is Nigh!


I had an orthodontist appointment yesterday and it was good news and bad news. The bad news is I have to wear the stupid elastics again. But that pales in comparison to the good news: my orthodontist started talking about how we can soon start talking about “taking the braces off.” Squee!!  I mean, it’s not like I’ll be getting them off tomorrow or anything – I have to wear the stupid elastics until my next appointment, which is 7 weeks from now – but my orthodontist said that her work is nearly done and so has sent a request to my dentist for her to see me to discuss my post-braces treatment plan. I need to get some restorative dentistry done once the braces come off because my three root canalled teeth, which are discoloured and cracked, need to be prettified. So my ortho wants my dentist to check out what my teeth look like now so that she can tell the ortho if she wants any last little tweaks done with the braces to facilitate the restorative dentistry. So, sometime in the next 7 weeks I’ll be chatting with my dentist about what “restorative dentistry” will entail and how many of my limbs I’ll need to sell to be able to afford it.

Good times.

Image Credit: Posted by Luke Siemens on Flickr.


Is My Face Shape Changing?

Last night I went out for dinner with a couple of girlfriends that I haven’t seen in ages. When I first got to the pub, my friend Svetlana was there and one of the first things she said was, “I think your braces are changing the shape of your face.” And then when Ziba showed up, she said the same thing! And they weren’t the first people to say this to me – I went for dinner with my friend Bryn a few weeks ago and she made a similar comment. Interestingly, these are all people who haven’t seen me since before I got my braces on. People that I see on a regular basis haven’t really mentioned anything about it1.

Since I’ve been taking a photo a day for the past 259 days and counting, I decided to search through my photos to see if I could find a before braces shot and an after braces shot that show my jawline from the same angle to see if it looks like my face shape is changing. So here’s a photo from before I got my braces on (on the left, taken in July) and after my braces were installed (on the right, taken in February):

Day 16Day 239

It’s subtle, but I think I can see a difference. What do you think?

  1. presumably because the change happens somewhat slowly and thus is less noticeable if you see me regularly []