Tag Archives: dental issues

Grinding Off More Than I Can Chew

28 May

“Well, I’m done talking for the night,” I say. I reach over and use both of my hands to pry open a massive light blue box and cram my brand new night guard into my mouth.

“You’re what?” My boyfriend asks, completely aware of what I am doing and being his bratty self.

“I’m done thalling thor the nigh,” I reply, hoping that at least some of the spit from my lisping flies in his general direction. That’s what he gets.

This will be me for the rest of my life, I’ve realized. Well, unless I stop grinding and clicking my teeth every night. “This is how your body takes out stress,” my dentist says while batting her long eyelashes in mock sympathy as she hands me my new guard, “You need to wear this every night. Your problem is never going to go away completely, but we need to protect your teeth and your jaw for when you get older.” Great.

teeth grinding, someecards

After seven months of not wearing my previous guard – which did absolutely nothing except gain awful dent marks in it and acquire a sickly yellow hue that made me not only unable to close my mouth at night but also gave me a terrible mental image of the open-mouth, hillbilly yellow-looking teeth I must have as I sleep – to bed when I wasn’t alone, I realized that the constant jaw aches and headaches and overall awfulness wasn’t worth it anymore. I put my vanity aside for the better of my teeth. Now I know how Tina Fey’s character in Date Night feels (please, just humor me and watch the first five seconds of the trailer).

Wearing night guards for grinding isn’t that uncommon. A lot of people, the smart people, wear them to protect their teeth from cracking and their jaws from constant pain, and I would really love to be invited to some support group where we can all click our teeth together in harmony or something so I don’t feel like such an idiot. The fact is that the stress that I felt when I originally started grinding, back in sophomore year, hasn’t gone away and has been replaced by the stress of student loans, rent, a full time entry-level job, finding time and energy to exercise and maintaining a non-bitchy demeanor in front of the ones that I love. It means that I am literally biting and grinding out my anger, frustration, anxiety and helplessness instead of just being an alcoholic or druggie, which I would prefer because at least it seems a little cooler than being a ‘grinder.’

Grinder. Might as well place my jaw next to the peppercorn and parmesan cheese at Olive Garden.

I’ll stop complaining, though. Besides my grinding, acne and heartburn, three ailments that make me both prepubescent and a senior citizen all at once, I am a relatively healthy girl who has had a pretty damn good life. What I seem to struggle with more than actually wearing this guard is my fear that this will somehow make me less attractive, less normal, less simple. These petty fears embarrass me because I realize that I have placed vanity and trying to fit in over comfort and preventative care. It makes me sad because I think of all of the people who live in pain every day because they don’t want others to see that they are vulnerable or imperfect. Heck, just thinking about it makes me clench my jaw in distress.

lebron james mouth guard seems stupid...

No, I will take my new night guard-wearing, teeth clicking and bumping and grinding self into my arms. I will learn to count the indents on the piece of plastic as enthusiastically as an environmentalist counts the rings on a tree stump. I will wear it, damnit, even when it makes me feel like the least sexy person in the world. I will scrub it and protect it like the finest of gems. I will learn to be vulnerable and to take care of myself instead of putting what I think others expect of me first. Perhaps, like Dorothy, enough clicks together will help get me to where I really want to be. 

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