Saturday, June 21, 2008

the pain in (new) spain

If you have not yet read Jonna's story about her trip to the dentist for dental implants -- do. It is one of the most graphic tales of dental techniques since Lawrence Olivier suggested clove oil to Dustin Hoffman. If you do not have visions of storm troopers dancing in your head by the time you have finished reading the post, you may have what it takes to be a dental professional.

Her story hit a nerve amongst her readers -- resulting in 16 comments as of this morning. The comments are all empathetic, but my good friend Nancy of Countdown to Mexico added some very practical advice. If you have read Nancy's blog you know that she is a very organized woman. Her blog is the epitome of how to get your life together to move on to a new adventure.

Her advice to all of us was: "I had one implant and I know I would need a serious reason and plenty of drugs before I would consider ever getting another. I know my failed root canals were from grinding my teeth. So, anyone reading this who grinds, go get a night guard, pronto!"

She may as well have been standing next to me. I am a grinder. I did not believe it until I ended up with two recent root canals, and you all know the financial woes tied to that story. I bought a mouth guard and wore it for over a month. But I stopped wearing it because every time I put it in, it caused me to gag.

Well, that was only part of the reason I stopped wearing it. I was positive that I was grinding my teeth because of some temporary stress at work. When I thought that situation resolved, I concluded that the grinding would stop.

Following nurse Nancy's advice, I wore the guard last night. My mind kicked in during the middle of the night -- it was trying to analyze why the pretzels I was eating were so stale, as stale as rubber. Of course, I was doing my best to masticate the guard. I guess the stress is not over.

My point? Nancy is correct. Even if you do not know yourself well enough to know that you are a grinder, ask your dentist about it. Frankly, I could put up with lots of nights of imaginary stale pretzels if it will prevent another financial drain in the dentist's chair -- or worse: a reprise of Jonna's brush with The Marathon Man.

And the job stress? That is going to find its own remedy when I trade it for different stresses south of the border. Olé.


Theresa in Mèrida said...

mouth guard I remember it well, the dental insurance said it was a medical problem, the medical insurance claimed it was a dental problem. Meanwhile I did damage to my teeth and jaw. I used to dream about banana slugs. My solution was to get a divorce.
Learning to meditate is good too.

Anonymous said...

Oh the joys of being a type A! I'm on my 3rd mouth guard and the last one was $300. After 3 root canals and crowns in one year, I figure it's a lot cheaper alternative. I envy people who can just relax and turn their brains off at night...

Steve Cotton said...

I have never thought of myself as being a type A person. However, when I say that, people who know me simply roll on the floor laughing. My dental hygenist almost needs a crowbar to pry my lip away from my teeth. And, I fear, my lips are that tight all the time.

Theresa -- I have been asked to give the sermon tomorrow morning. The topic is celebration (and ridding ourselves of cares and fears). I think I should be listening to this one rather than delivering it.

Nancy said...

I was told by my dentist that grinding doesn't necessarily have its root in stress, it could just be a habit. I bought one from Sleep Right on line (also available at Target) and I really like it. Way less gagging. But Steve, you really do get used to it after a while. I even need mine sometimes when I drive a long distance alone.

Good luck!

Steve Cotton said...

Nancy -- When I first got mine, I thought about taking it to work for meetings -- right to the source of the problem. But I thought that was a bit too obvious.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I take it the meetings at work are the root cause of your grinding and gagging. Don't ya' just hate when that happens?

My solution to the tedium of meetings? I quit my fulltime job with the state and returned to freelancing. Did the trick. I haven't needed a root canal since then. ;-)


Steve Cotton said...

Alee' -- Wise woman that you are, you put your finger on both the problem and the solution.