by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
Sink your teeth into this: A naturopath told me once, if you keep your mouth, gums and teeth healthy, your body will thank you later. But if they’re unhealthy and you’re constantly swallowing traces of debris that have been lingering in your mouth, you could be making yourself ill.
Keeping this nugget in mind, a few weeks ago, I went to the dentist for a regular check up and cleaning. My dentist touched a nerve and the pain shot all the way down to my toes. I had to come back a few weeks later to get a filling.
Getting the filling wasn’t so bad. At least my dentist has a TV for me to watch.
The problem was, after the numbness wore off, the pain on the left side of my mouth continued, particularly in the evening hours. Occasionally, it would wake me up in the middle of the night. I couldn’t understand why the pain seemed to come from the whole side of my mouth and not just the upper part where the work was done. I also noticed, if I breathed with my mouth open, I could feel the cool breeze on my teeth.
I finally bit the bullet and called my dentist to make another appointment. I could only put up with the pain for so long.
The dentist had a look under the hood and deduced it was an issue with how my teeth were lining up together on the bite after the filling was installed. He proceeded to file down my teeth. It was unpleasant but not painful. I was picturing one of those electric sanding tools you use when you’re about to paint furniture, but that wasn’t the case. First the hygienist did some work and she had a soft touch compared to the experience-laden hands of my dentist. But when either of them hit my nerve, I instantly swatted their hands away from my face. It’s funny how a purely instinctive reaction kicks in to avoid pain. The brain works in mysterious ways.
Anyway, as it turned out, my dentist explained what happened. After I had the filling, my bite was misaligned, so my brain said, “I’ll fix this” and I ended up grinding my teeth at night in a futile effort to even things out. That grinding prevented me from getting a full night’s sleep and it also caused sensitivity in my teeth. Fascinating, I know. Like I said, the brain works in mysterious ways.
I was really shocked to hear that I grind my teeth. I know I’ve been stressed lately but I didn’t realize I was grinding my teeth to release some of my tension.
The formal word for tooth grinding is Bruxism and it’s a big deal. One of my former co-workers grinded her teeth at night and suffered from the worst cluster headaches, preventing her from going to work on some days. She was diagnosed with Bruxism and had to get a special mouth guard.
My point is, if you have a problem with tooth sensitivity or tooth grinding, talk to your dentist about your bite. They can tell at a glance if you’ve been griding your teeth. Maybe using Sensodyne toothpaste for the rest of your life isn’t the only answer.