I never really paid much attention to my teeth other than the usual daily brushing and flossing (guilty of skiving off sometimes) because well, even though it’s shameless to praise myself, I do think my teeth are quite nice. They are tidy and neat, and should be where they should be, all these without needing any assistance from braces or retainers.
So last December, I visited my dentist and while cleaning my teeth he asked me a couple of questions. “Are you stressed at work?”, Yes. “Do you not have quality sleep?”, Yes. “Do you wake up several times during the night for no reason at all?”, Yes. “Have you noticed that you have a perpetual raised line on either side of your inner cheek?”, Yes.
And then came the shocker. Because of constant stress, my jaws clamp with tension even in my sleep (I get it during the day too, just that I make a conscious effort to try to relax and unclamp them), and my teeth grind. As a result, my teeth has deteriorated greatly in just one year (also guilty of not seeing him every six months like I should).
In an attempt to solve this, I was suckered in forking out $500 for a night guard. Apparently wearing it to sleep will “reset” the muscle memory of my jaw and keep them unclenched. I’ve been wearing them for a week now. Not sure if I’m showing signs of a placebo effect, but I really do sleep much better these days. Other than waking up to pee occasionally, I actually sleep through most nights fitfully. Until my alarm reminds me that it’s time to wake up for work that is.
However, I’m slightly disturbed by something. The outer shell of this night guard is made from hard acrylic, as it’s supposed to act as a protective layer, while the inner layer is made from a slightly softer material because it moulds and fits my teeth. As soon as after the first night, I found some little dents on the outer shell, and they have increased in numbers and depth since. Obviously I’m still clenching my jaws when I sleep but the strength of them is slightly disconcerting.
I’m not sure because this is my first time I’m seeking professional help for my dental health, but is this normal?
Also, I think I broke part of my molar. Don’t ask me how I managed that. It started when I heard and felt a crunch while eating one day and since then, even when drinking water, it seeps in and it hurts. I just did an x-ray recently but we couldn’t find anything. The dentist said it might be a hairline crack and that’s why it’s not visible yet. However after dinner tonight, I felt that something was lodged there and after digging around (sorry, but no glam way of describing that), it seems that a part of my tooth has broken off, but the root part of it is still stuck in my gums. Great.
Best of all, my dentist doesn’t work everyday. Should I wait two days to hopefully try to get a slot or just wing it and try any random guy?
Is this all part and parcel of growing older? Like you know, things start breaking down and showing more signs of wear and tear? This adult business is tough. I don’t want to grow up.