For years and years I had neck pain and just could not understand why, all I knew was that it was worse in the mornings. I used to do neck stretches, take pain killers, lie down and stretch when I could, but nothing quite solved it – so I just lived with it.
At a routine dentist appointment 6-years ago, my dentist looked at me through his splatter-proof googles and said “you know you grind your teeth, don’t you?” and as he uttered that one sentence, everything clicked into place. “So that’s why I have such awful neck pain!” I responded. Suddenly, the dull neck pain that I had been living with every day made sense. I am a teeth grinder. I am a bruxer. I grind my teeth.
Bruxism: involuntary habitual grinding of the teeth, typically during sleep.
My dentist offered me a solution – to have a tooth guard made. He quoted £100 and I went ahead. After taking a mold of my teeth using a cold putty, he sent it to the “lab” and I collected it a week later. I was advised to buy a box of cleansing tablets to keep it bacteria free which I did.
I had no problems with my guard, I didn’t spit it out like some people do and I me and my guard were best buddies until about 4-months later when I noticed that I HAD GROUND THROUGH IT! Two holes appeared at the back where I had been scrunching down on it so hard it was no longer in one piece! Gawd. I called the dentist and I got a replacement, that cost a further £100.
A few months later I thought it would be a good idea to do what I used to do to sterlise my child’s baby bottles, and I plonked my mouth guard into a jug of freshly boiled water. The bloody thing shrank before my eyes and ended up half the size. Needless to say I swore whilst I witnessed this happening. I was so mad at myself – see ya later £100 and hello neck pain!
After a few attempts at buying some online bite guards and moulding them myself, which is a stupid idea because they just don’t work, I booked into a new dentist and she made me a thicker guard that cost around £150 and I still use it to this day. I clean it every day with a toothbrush and I use a retainer (or steradent) tablet in water to get it bacteria free and fresh.
But I don’t like using it. It is annoying. I forget where I put it sometimes, it has gone a yellowy colour, it can go a bit smelly (TMI but it is true), I forgot to wear it if I am tiddly, it is a bit embarrassing and I don’t like taking it away with me when I stay with friends. I just don’t like it.
Over the years, I have tried to ditch the guard in favour of face yoga, face massage, masseter muscle massage etc, but nothing quite works. Nothing stops me bruxing.
I now notice that I am clenching my jaw when I drive, so bruxing is part of my muscular make up now I think, but I wish it wasn’t. People who grind or clench their teeth have a larger masseter muscle and sometimes it is visible, especially on men. You must’ve seen a guy who has a moving jaw/cheek bit, well that’s it! the muscle itself is a useful muscle (they all are I guess) because it helps chewing, it also helps clenching too, which isn’t quite so useful.
I’ve heard that botox can help bruxism, and meditation can too. Since teeth-grinding is very much linked to stress, I can see why the meditation and relaxation can help, but how would freezing the muscle using botox be of use? Anyone?
I don’t feel stressed if I am totally honest, but maybe I am. Three kids, running a home and a business that I am picking back up after a rough lockdown all do add to stress, but I wouldn’t say that I am a stressed person. Blood pressure normal blah blah blah.
So what is the solution? I don’t want to wear the guard every day until I die because it is unslightly and a pain in the bum, I either have all my teeth taken out (no thanks!) or it is masseter muscle botox, is that the next step?
Are you a bruxer? Let me know what you have tried…
BRUXER, Confidence Coach, Make-up Artist and geriatric mum!