Saturday, March 24, 2018


I skipped gamelan today so that I could go to the dentist because I was sure that one of my teeth was about to rot out of my head. My mouth has been so sore. Talking, eating, yawning—all of it painful. I stuck a little mirror in my mouth so I could look at my molar on the way, way back and I saw what looked like a big, gaping hole, and I kind of freaked out.

Because how do you not notice that your tooth is falling apart, right?

So I went to the dentist—who happens to be in our ward—and he did a bunch of tests (an x-ray, a cold test, a bite test, a knocking test, and a gum measurement) to see how my tooth was doing and from what he could tell my tooth was perfectly healthy. The black spot I'd seen on my tooth was a filling because apparently I already have a filling in that tooth (so maybe not perfectly healthy, but healthy enough). There was 100% nothing wrong with my tooth.

"Maybe it's just my jaw then..." I suggested, so we talked a bit about my clenching and grinding. "This has happened once before. I could have sworn I needed an emergency root canal. That's when I started wearing a night guard."

In 2006.

Bad habits are difficult to break under the best of circumstances, but breaking a habit that you're completely unaware of is ever so much more difficult (impossible, even).

I suppose I'm not entirely unaware of my clenching and grinding. I've been doing it for years upon years and the proof, as they say, is in the pudding (or the way my teeth are worn down and I wake up every morning sore and have bitten through several night guards and...) but I have no idea when I do this clenching and grinding (except that I know that I do it when I'm asleep).

It's always worse when I'm under extra stress. Like, shortly after we moved here and I was pregnant (and diabetic/high risk) and we had a few other stressful things going on, I went through a period where I could hardly open my mouth wide enough to eat. I could barely open it wide enough to stick three fingers between my teeth—but that was if I concentrated and worked really hard (and it was almost tear-inducing).

But I knew what that was. And I knew that it would get better with time and relaxation.

This pain, though, had me worried that something was seriously wrong with my tooth. Evidently it was not my tooth, but the dentist checked my jaw and—wow. None of the tooth tests even made me flinch but he started pressing against my jaw muscles and I was like, "Are you trying to kill me?!"

So it's just my jaw making me feel like I'm going to die.

I'm supposed to fit a new mouthguard, try to destress, and take a steady stream of ibuprofen for the next 4 to 5 days (and if things aren't better by then we can move on to muscle relaxants).

But this post isn't really about that, not really.

This post is about how I left all of my kids at home (for an hour) and then sat at the dentist by myself. I brought Anne of Green Gables along with me and got to read a bit of it while sitting there quietly, by myself, and I was surprised to find the name of a (very) minor character jumping off the page at me: Mrs. Alexander Spencer.

Ha! And you all thought we named Alexander after Hamilton.

I have to admit—after years of loathing our dentists (every dentist we found in Durham I just...ugh)—that this was a rather nice visit. Perhaps I need to think up a few more non-issues with my teeth so I can sit in the cushy chairs of the quiet lobby with my book (perhaps a few more sessions of sitting in the cushy chairs (ooh, or the reclining dentist booth...with the hygienist asking if she can get me some water or make me more comfortable) with my book (and away from the chaos of my tiny humans) will help cure this round of TMD).

Or maybe I'm just ready for warm spring afternoons so I can unleash my little balls of energy on the playground while I sit on the grass to enjoy a few novels and my little Alexander Spencer.


  1. Ouch, your poor jaw! Hope some of this stress can leave you soon.

  2. Andrew wears a mouth guard because he was grinding his teeth at night and had jaw pain. Hope your mouth is feeling better now!