TMJ more like TMA-OK

Hate you Tony Hawk and your love of grinding.

I avoided seeing a dentist for about three years for a few reasons. First, I always seemed to get the hygienist that could turn a routine cleaning into a homicidal bloodbath. “YOU HAVE WEAK GUMS!” she would scream over the whirring of the steam-powered water blade that removed the plaque-filled chunks between my teeth. Geysers of blood erupting from mouth, splashing off her face mask and dripping back down on me as she asks me if I believe in the word of God. “You’re brushing too hard!” scrape scrape scrape “You’re not flossing hard enough!” poke poke poke “Are you using toothpaste or baby diarrhea? WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU!?” Then the dentist would come in, look at my mouth for three seconds and say how fantastic it looks and send me on my way with a plastic baggie full of travel-sized oral cleansers that I clearly had no idea how to use. “Have a great day!” said the dentist, while the hygienist is over her shoulder, mouthing the words, “I am going to fucking kill you,” with a dental pick held up to her head like a pistol.

So that’s one reason. The second reason is that they stopped taking my insurance, so I took it as a sign that I should find a new dentist. That never happened because I’m an incredibly busy, fancy man. Long story short, three years later my teeth start to hurt so I find a new dentist, lose considerably less blood during my cleaning, and all is well. UNTIL DOT DOT DOT

Dentist: So it looks like you’ve been grinding your teeth. Do you think it’s while you sleep, or…?
Me: Hmm, I’m not sure (grind grind grind) what you’re talking (CLAMP) about.
Dentist: You’re grinding them right now.
Me: No, this is just that thing that everyone does. Y’know like when you lock up your muscles and your jaw clamps shut and your hatred for life disappears for –
Me: – a few seconds? Y’know that thing?
Dentist: That’s not a thing.
Me: Oh, right. Actually I meant that other thing where you bite down on your teeth really hard because it’s the only thing that makes sense in the world. That’s totally what I meaNT AH HA HA HA OH MY GOD IT HURTS SO (GRIND CLAMP CRUNCH) FUCKING GOOD!

There’s nothing like hearing from a medical professional that something you absentmindedly do every day is incredibly bad for you. She dunked my head into the spit sink next to me and I regained my composure. I’m now scheduled for a mouth guard fitting to protect my fragile teeth from myself while I sleep, and this is not embarrassing at all! Two of my heroes, Rocky Balboa and Lil’ Wayne both use mouth guards, and they don’t take shit from anyone. I encourage you to enjoy a generous helping of our Cadillac greels. In the meantime, I’m learning to recognize my grinding triggers, and so far I’ve got waking up, making coffee, driving to work, sitting at my desk, reading the news, drinking coffee, working, driving home, playing Halo, watching television, updating my blog, preparing myself for sleep, saying my prayers and sleeping. I’ve also come up with some good alternatives – now every time I feel like grinding my teeth, I just chew on a ball of tin foil, smack myself in the head and scream, “SO STUPID,” over and over until the urge passes. Which, after a few hours, it usually does.

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