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Why Tuesday?

The Girlfriend's Guide to Health will be updated every Tuesday.... Stay tuned dear readers and let me rock your world.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bite me.

I firmly believe in mathematical genetics. Translation? God divides. Allow me to elaborate... I have enormous hair and tiny teeth. God divides. A small waist and a rather generous behind.... God divides. A bad sense for business but a great sense of style.... you guessed it... she divides, all right.

Back to my teeth. They ARE tiny. In fact for a sister with a very big mouth (I can stick my whole fist in my mouth if you ever need a good party trick) I have very small teeth. This is not an observation but rather a fact. My dentist has confirmed the observation at my last appointment.

We took impressions of my teeth in order to make my new bite guard. This involves holding two plates of medical grade plaster in your mouth for about 90 seconds without vomiting. It is a feat but fortunately I was well prepared. I have a new bite guard made about every two years.

Yes my cyber sisters...I am a professional tooth grinder. I know many of you are. I know this is a rather common afflication. Let me just say that within my teeth grinding community, I am GOOD. I can easily grind through a bite guard in a year and a half and still have the wear with all to chew steak and function in society.

My grinding has been know to wake up my beloved on many an occasion. I do not snore or talk in my sleep. Instead I rub my jaws together at 3 o'clock in the morning and wake up the neighbourhood.

The affliction is so great that according to my Dentist, I am in fact making my teeth smaller by the day. Each night at 9:30 pm (yes I have a bed time and YES it is early) I wash my face, brush my ever vanishing teeth and go to sleep. For the next 8 hours I let my lower jaw beat the crap out of my upper jaw in a UFC smash up that only the likes of Pay per View is familiar with.

My Dentist is a lovely man. I do believe you will recall me mentioning him in a previous blog. We go way back. This was not personal. This was enamel medicine. I'm not a bad person, I'm not stressed out. I just have a wicked case of Temporal mandibular Joint disorder and I am apparently very good at it. In fact according to Dr. N. my mouth looks like I've "been chewing gravel on a daily basis".

Could this be a cry for help? Could this be that I am a significantly stressed out woman who is mild mannered by day and a neurotic mess by night? Do I have a stressed out alter ego that emerges only when I sleep to grind her jaws together in an act of superhero release?

According to the Mayo clinic, several factor are at play in a person's risk of BRUXISM (teeth grinding). They include:

Sleep disorders
Stress levels
Temporal Mandibular Joint disorders
Temporal Mandibular Joint Malalignment

I suppose I have stress and anxiety, but I always thought my shoe closet was the perfect treatment plan for this. My Manolos had always seemed to be able to keep my stress level under check.

I did have braces as a teenager and according to my dentist, this may in fact be the key problem. My jaw has been misaligned and so it grinds in response.

Turns out, I am not alone. According to a study published in Cranio in 2003, 27% of people suffer from bruxism. 1014 subjects on the island of Sardinia (Italy) were interviewed regarding the habit of clenching and grinding their teeth. They had to specify if this activity occurred during the day, during the night, or both. Other information recorded was their age, gender, marital status, and occupation.

Overall prevalence of bruxism was 27.2% (276 subjects). No association was found between bruxism and age, gender and job or self reported stress levels. Even differentiating daily, nightly or both daily and nightly bruxism, associations were non-significant. Marital status seems to make some difference: divorced people reported higher parafunctional activity compared to widows and widowers who reported the least. AThe study concluded that it could not site stress as a cause for bruxism.

So I grind my teeth. Each night I wear my bite guard and hope for the best. Not many things last in life. Friends come and go. From dinner parties to last seasons fashion, life is fleeting. And now so is my tooth enamel. But the one thing that WILL help me sleep tonight is the knowledge that I have bruxism NOT because I am a bad woman who neurotically worries about the state of the world.

No, I have bruxism because I had a bad orthodontist who did not worry enough about the alignment of my bite.

And grind or not, tonght, I'll sleep just fine.

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