I Got a Mouthguard: Clearly I Am Cool.

posted in: Day In The Life, Sicky 21
A mouthguard from a boxing match at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, or so Wikipedia tells me. Image: Wikipedia.
A (grody) mouthguard from a boxing match, apparently. Not my mouthguard, not my boxing match. Image: Wikipedia.


Pop Quiz No. 1:

Q: Two weeks ago, I went to the dentist to get a filling repaired. How did I break a filling?

A: Because I chomped ice cubes for like two months straight before my labs showed my anemia was so bad I was .5 ice cubes away from the blinkin’ emergency room. 

You remember, don’t you, how I narrowly-avoided an ER trip — it has been known to happen — but got my iron infusions and avoided that at the eleventh hour? That was great. Less great is that my dentist, Dr. Tahbaz, confirmed that my ice-eating was probably the main culprit for my busted filling.

Pop Quiz No. 2:

Q: My dentist visit cost $250. Guess how much my iron infusions cost?

A: $3,600. After insurance. 

I’m not sure what my face did when I opened that bill from Northwestern. Did it twist? Or was it flat? Did it buzz and fizz or was it numb? I don’t know because I kinda blanked out. I regained consciousness somewhere in the next few minutes, though, because I remember that I started laughing. Not because I was happy, or because anything was funny. No, I started laughing because I somehow kept opening mail and it somehow kept being bills for astronomical amounts: hospital treatments, tuition for grad school, condo payments. And I pay my own taxes, so I have to put money aside for that every quarter, which means that the money in my accounts isn’t really mine. I kept laughing to keep from crying or hitting things.

Life, man. A girl could just gnash her teeth all day over it all.

Except that she can’t. Because guess what else the dentist told her?

“You need to get a mouth guard. You’re grinding your teeth at night. A lot. Get a mouth guard. Today.”

It’s not earth-shattering news that I grind my teeth. I vaguely remember other dentists mentioning this to me. But either they were never really that concerned about it or I wasn’t listening, because no one ever did anything about my bruxism. Did you know that teeth-grinding has a name? It’s a real affliction/condition and it’s called bruxism.

Pop Quiz No. 3: 

Q: If you’re a teeth-grinder (tooth-grinder?) and an annoying person at a cocktail party asks you about your theological, ideological, or political beliefs, how do you answer like a boss?

A: “I’m a Bruxist. Oh, look at the time.” 

What I’m trying to get at is that I had to buy a mouthguard. The good news is that it was $25, not $250 or $3,600; the bad news is that I have a mouthguard I’m supposed to wear at night so I don’t grind my teeth against themselves but against a piece of inert plastic, instead. The news is bad because a) it’s sad I need protection against myself via the nocturnal manifestation of anxiety and existential angst, and because 2) mouthguards do not inspire a feeling of attractiveness, exactly. Mouthguards are practical, but they are not sexy.

But I like my teeth. Healthy teeth are sexy. So fine: I’ll wear my charming! clear! dainty! mouthguard when I’m sleeping alone. But should I have company, well, that thing is getting stuffed into the medicine cabinet before you can say “iron supplement.”

21 Responses

  1. Nicole
    | Reply

    Just think of all the money you’re now saving on birth control. 😉

    • Mary
      | Reply

      Nicole!! Behave! (Also, this is a very amusing comment. Nice work!)

  2. Colleen
    | Reply

    Ah it could be worse I have to use s CPAP machine
    As I stop breathing in my sleep
    Not sexy even if I have a guest I have to show tell and use the CPAP for sleep
    Not sexy for sure to stop breathing for good with company
    Bite guard night guard I’d pretty common and you only use it while sleeping so you can use it with company

  3. Suzy
    | Reply

    I just got one as well for stress induced Bruxist and TMJ. What kind did you buy? I’m not sure I got the right or best one for my money. Plus I have to use hot compresses on each jaw as often as possible AND wear the guard during the day as often as possible and all night. Plus prednisone and ibuprofen. I HATE taking prednisone!
    Any suggestions on mouthguards?

    • Penny
      | Reply

      Have your dentist make them…. I have sleep apnea too

  4. Suzy
    | Reply

    I just got one as well for stress induced Bruxist and TMJ. What kind did you buy? I’m not sure I got the right or best one for my money. Plus I have to use hot compresses on each jaw as often as possible AND wear the guard during the day as often as possible and all night. Plus prednisone and ibuprofen. I HATE taking prednisone!
    Any suggestions on mouthguards? May have posted this twice

  5. Leslie
    | Reply

    My 26 yo daughter chimps ice constantly and is always tired! What type of anemia do you have?

  6. Nancy
    | Reply

    Well $25 beats the $350. I paid for the custom mouth guard!! Sooo very romantic when your husband rolls over on it in the middle of the night cause you spit it out in your sleep! Or better yet you hear the dog chewing on something under the bed and you realize you spit it out and the dog has it !! Another life experience!!

  7. Lynne
    | Reply

    I love this blog post! The cost of living (especially) health is outrageous and more people need to talk about it this way. And Nancy!! I about spit out my coffee when you said your dog had your guard under the bed chewing on it. I can so relate!! (partial instead of guard and cat instead of dog) Thanks for laugh this morning ladies! And Mary – I feel ya!

  8. Carole Angel
    | Reply

    Mary, your posts are hilarious and I am very sorry about your medical bills and bruxism. I also grind my teeth at night but I buy my mouthguards at Walmart in the sports department. I have a small mouth so I buy the “youth” size. I think they cost around a dollar. Keep on keeping on Mary. You seem to be enjoying life!

  9. Marianne ten Kate
    | Reply

    I subscribe to The Free Dictionary’s Word of the Day newsletter. Today’s Article of the Day? Bruxism! Spooky, or what? http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/bruxism in case you need more than Mary’s enlightening and entertaining take on the issue!

  10. Christine Houghton
    | Reply

    Me too! Last week my dentists looked at my X-Rays and said I have four cracked or chipped teeth including one front tooth. I was shocked. He thought it was from grinding my teeth. I know I grit my teeth when I’m tense. So I guess I need a mouth guard too! BooHoo! Good luck with your teeth, Mary. It only gets worse when you get search. Sorry…..

  11. Diane Parks
    | Reply

    …and how in the world did you get one for $25?!?! My dentist asked $350.00 and I declined!

    • Mary
      | Reply

      I got one at Walgreen’s!

  12. Lori Minch
    | Reply

    I’ve been wearing a night guard since my jaw locked shut in college, due to bruxism. I’m now well past 50, and still wear a night guard. The night guard is a lot sexier that a locked jaw and the hysteria that results.

    • Lori Minch
      | Reply


  13. Jan C.
    | Reply

    Ah, Mar. Infusion of iron is better than the shot! I know you are no stranger to pain, but, back in the dark ages, (when I went to nursing school), it was injected by “Z track” method. You had to pull the skin and muscle to the side, give she injection, then let go. This way the iron didn’t ooze out or stain the tissue. And the painfullness! Be glad for the infusion!

  14. Judy Forkner
    | Reply

    Oh my–funny & sad! My dentist has said for years that I should get a mouth guard. Between the expense & the less than sexy appeal, I have declined. It’s definitely been 20 years & I just kind of tried to think about keeping my mouth relaxed when I go to bed. I think it helps as long as I’m not too anxious (such as when Trump has me worried about nuclear war or something)!
    Maybe I should look into a cheap, over the counter one to get me through the next 3+ years…

  15. Carmen
    | Reply

    I used a night guard for a week and hated it. I elected to have my dentist file down some enamel to make my bite more even.

  16. Sarah
    | Reply

    We have forgotten how common it used to be for people to loose all or most of their teeth before they were forty. I worry that we are heading back to something like that for people who are over sixty and living on greatly reduced incomes and for those who never had dental insurance or don’t have it now. I speak as an over-70 person who has lost teeth recently and can’t afford to have them replaced. Not being able to chew is a real downer.

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