Once More Unto The Breach
Tales of my second go-round with breast cancer before the age of 40, and everything since.

Free Gingival Flap

That’s the name of the charming procedure I had on Monday morning and from which I am continuing to (slowly) recover.

What, you ask, is a free gingival flap?


It’s a dental procedure in which tissue from the roof of your mouth is removed and grafted onto your gumline.


Why in the world did I have a free gingival flap?

Because, my friends, I have had an unusually high frenum.

Everyone has a frenum.  Actually, everyone has several frenums (or frena, depending on your preference).

There’s one that attaches your tongue to the bottom of your mouth (the labial frenum).

There’s one that attaches your upper lip to your upper gums (the upper lingual frenum).

And there’s one that attaches your lower lip to your lower gums (the lower lingual frenum).  In my case, that was the troublemaker.  For whatever reason, my lower lingual frenum—or, as I prefer to think of it, frenumy—was somewhat supersized and, over time, began to pull the gums away from my lower front teeth.

This, as you might have guessed, is BAD.

And it’s why parts of my mouth had to be surgically rearranged.

And why my little frenumy had to be forcibly removed.

And why I have been eating a very limited diet of mainly soft, cold foods for the past week.

And wearing putty on my lower front teeth to protect my newly reinforced gums.

And sporting a clear plastic guard that covers my upper teeth and protects the roof of my mouth (and—bonus!—makes me slur my words as if I were soused, which, sadly, I’m not).

And why I’ve been a tad cranky for the past few weeks (sorry, Zach).  In case you are doing the math and wondering why I said “weeks” instead of “days,” it’s because I’ve had anticipatory crankiness, a well known symptom of impending gum surgery. (I’ve now moved on to post-gum-surgery crankiness, its more severe cousin.)

I rationalized that at least I’d be able to have large quantities of ice cream and gelato—aka my favorite foods—during my recovery.  (Cold?  Check.  Soft?  Check.  Effective anti-crankiness agent?  Check.)  But it’s amazing how much one can miss hot liquids.

Or solid foods, for that matter.

Or being able to brush and floss with impunity (versus dodging obstacles all over one’s mouth).

Oh, and one other thing about the free gingival flap . . .

It wasn’t remotely free.


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