I might lose my teeth for not wearing a night guard!
I fractured a molar tooth! Which aside from being way too painful, it's quite embarrassing, too. I fractured the molar during my sleep, since I have been neglecting my "obligatory" night guard for the last couple of months.
Indeed, very stupid on my part.
It all began two years ago. I was waking up with mandibular pain each morning and I didn't know what it was, but sometimes it got so bad, that also I had headaches, ear ache and neck pain.
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I went to my dentist, and he told me that I had become a major grinder and that I was slowly wearing my teeth down. He also said that my teeth looked like that of a 50 year old. That was depressing.
But it got worst when he told me that I had to wear a night-guard to sleep. Have you ever seen one? (Please refer to Tina Fey in the film "Date night" when she takes her night guard off to have sex. I can't take that image out of my mind).
A night guard is similar to a retainer but it's made out of flexible plastic. They're designed to protect your upper and lower teeth from clenching against each other.
They are also expensive, 500 dollars (out of pocket ouch!), since most insurances do not cover a retainer.
And let me tell you something else, a night guard is quite simply the most un-sexy thing, a woman can wear at night. Even if you go to bed naked -- if you wear a night guard -- prepare to feel like you're wearing your grandma's pajamas.
I asked my dentist at the time if there was anything else he could recommend for me.
There's no way around it.
"If you don't wear the guard, you may wear down your teeth to the point where you'll need to have caps on your worn teeth or lose them all together," he said.
You may be a grinder and not even realize it, as it's something you do in your sleep. The cause isn't known, but it's assumed that stress and anxiety are major factors. In other words, if you cut down on your stress level during your daytime hours, your grinding may decrease.
But how the hell do you do that? In my case it's quite impossible and now I have a broken molar to prove it.
So here's a bit of advice for you girls, perhaps you already have a night guard but you aren't using it (I can relate to that, as the cover on mine gathered dust over the past months) but the truth of the matter is that it's actually easy to get used to it and even if it's disgusting and my husband hates it, I must say that it certainly does the trick.
Also, as it turns out almost 40 million other Americans struggle with this grinding condition, so this revelation gave me an added incentive to wear my guard and not feel like a complete moron.
In any case, from now on I will keep my teeth safe even if that means wearing the guard while arguing with my daughter!
Do you have problems grinding your teeth?
Image via Mikal.Danielle/flickr