Nine years later and the recession has finally hit home. This one isn't necessarily monetary, although it isn't particularly cheap. This recession is one of pain, of agitation, of blood. I'm taking about my gums and about how they're receding faster than Jude Law's hairline. That was unfair to Jude, but the description is apt.
According to WebMD, gum recession "is the process in which the margin of the gum tissue that surrounds the teeth wears away, or pulls back, exposing more of the tooth, or the tooth's root."
But wait, it gets better.
"If left untreated, the supporting tissue and bone structures of the teeth can be severely damaged, and may ultimately result in tooth loss."
It's not the sexiest of afflictions.
Another common sign is that gum recession has hit is that one or more of your teeth will appear longer. Ever heard that someone looks a little long in the tooth? That's meant to describe someone who is getting and looking older, but I think it probably also has something to do with gum disease. One of my teeth does look really long too — and it's freakin' me the hell out. Let it be known, that I will never make fun of someone with extra gums again. Forest Gump's Bubba Blue had it nice.
Where did it all go wrong? I gently brushed thrice-a-day, I flossed, I rinsed. Never even had a single cavity! I was militant about mouth and tooth care, yet here I am, about to go under the knife. What did I do to deserve this? It turns out genetics are what cursed me with puny, weak gums. Thanks Mom and Dad. I could've dealt with the severe emotional issues, but bad gums are another story.
Now before you call me a big wuss and tell me that going to the periodontist is downright routine, please know, I am in fact a big wuss. Knives and mouths don't mix.
The options with gum recession are seemingly few. Sometimes all it takes is better dental habits, but more likely, if the enemy has advanced, or actually in this case, retreated beyond a certain point, it calls for a surgical procedure called a gum graft. Again, not sexy. You can either have skin cut from the roof of your mouth and then placed along the gums where needed, which works the best because it's your own tissue. But this method also hurts like hell, I'm told. Someone said it's like the worst pizza burn ever. Or, the other option is, you can have cadaver tissue placed in your mouth, which is less painful, but this means there's going to be a dead person in my mouth. Also it doesn't tend to take as well since it's not your tissue. It's not a win-win.
Because I'm superficial, I think the worst part of it all is that you basically can't brush your teeth very well for a few days after the surgery. My girlfriend, who was cursed with the same affliction and had the same surgery a year ago, was very hesitant to open-mouth kiss me for a week afterwards for this reason. And I don't blame her.
Since we're putting all our cards on the table here, another side effect is that she looked like she got hit in the face with a crowbar for a few days.
Sorry baby. Love you!
The foul breath thing could come into play though because I do talk on the radio in a cramped, small studio with another person, every single morning. It's sort of my job. That means my co-host on 103.7 Play, Melissa Chase, might be getting a whiff of something unpleasant. Guess it wouldn't be the first time. Bodily scents have nowhere to run in that studio.
There is a bright side though. I've been told by a number of people that my periodontist is the best and that I'm in good hands. I'd mention his name here, but one would assume that he does a great job on every patient, regardless of whether or not that patient gives him a shout out.
So until the day comes that my mouth is filled with dead people, I will try to enjoy life with my weak, sensitive, genetically-predisposed-to-being-horrible gums. A few stiff drinks may be the answer.
I will see you soon, Dr. Overstreet.
It can't hurt, right? S
Jack Lauterback also is co-host of "Mornings with Melissa and Jack" on 103.7 Play weekdays from 6-9. Connect with him at email@example.com, or on Twitter at @jackgoesforth.