Bring In The (Night)Guards!: My Fight Against Bruxism and TMJ Disorder

Grinding be gone!

Grinding. It's not just a dance.

Before the Dude and I go to sleep, there is something we can never forget to do before we turn out the lights.

Pop in our nightguards.

We’re major teeth-grinders in our house, otherwise known as Bruxism. For me, this problem is not just at night. I find myself clenching and grinding my teeth when I’m stressed or anxious which, ever since I became a mama, is more often than not.

Unfortunately, Bruxism is not my only issue. I also deal with TMJ Disorder. It’s fairly common to suffer from both.

I remember waking up one morning around the age of 16 with a splitting headache and my jaw in a painful locked position. I couldn’t move it at all and I was terrified. I happened to be visiting with my dad at the time who managed to calm me down and massage my jaw enough for me to move it again. From that day forward, my jaw started to click or pop every time I opened my mouth. It was also occasionally very tender and painful. My dentist at the time shrugged at my complaint and said it was quite common. He also mentioned that there wasn’t much that could be done. When I asked him why this happened, he blamed the problem on the two years of braces (with rubber-bands) I wore from the ages of 13-15. I remember thinking, geesh, had I known the consequences I would’ve lived with snaggle-teeth! Whether or not the braces are to blame can’t be proven. There are many theories as to why 5-15% of the population is affected with a TMJ disorder.

At this point, nearly 18 years later, I still cannot fully open my mouth without having to actually move my jaw in a way that makes an annoying popping sound. The pain and tenderness is something that comes and goes, but I’ve lived with it long enough to know what to do about it. From my own personal experience and based on all the information I’ve gathered over the years, there’s not a whole lot that can be done. There are a number of remedies out there, from pain meds and Botox (hell no!) to yoga and CBT therapy. Being that I am trained and educated in CBT methods, I can easily incorporate what I know into my life. Admittedly, the relaxation methods I use can work very well for me during the day…but when I’m grinding my teeth at night, not so much. I also use massage exercises, acupuncture, and chiropractic methods.  Now, if you’ve been reading my blog, you know I’m a huge fan of acupuncture and chiropractors.  Acupuncture and chiropractic treatments can work very well for my TMJ /Bruxism issues but, I have to admit, just like almost everything else I’ve tried they can only offer temporary respite. (continues…)

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Want to Feel Great? Try Needles and Crack.

This feels much better than it looks

This feels much better than it looks

Being poked, prodded, and cracked is a great way to spend an hour or two.

As most parents or caretakers of small children know, nothing puts wear and tear on your muscles and joints like a kid. And, if you’ve been pregnant, you probably know that it starts in the womb. By the time I reached my 3rd trimester, I was regularly seeing a chiropractor, acupuncturist, and masseuse. And by regularly, I mean weekly. Sometimes multiple times a week. Yes, I clearly used to have both the time and the money to devote to myself.

Now that my pregnancy aches and pains have morphed into the ailments associated with lugging around a wiggly and arm-flailing 25-pounder who prefers to be carried, I still get tune-ups when the need arises.

A few months ago, I had the brilliant idea to show my Monkey some tricks on the monkey bars (tricks that have not been practiced in 20 years).  I woke up with muscle spasms in my back so severe that I could barely walk, so I immediately called my doctor who is both an acupuncturist and chiropractor (find one of those!). I was back to normal within minutes after my session. I was good to go for a few months until just the other day when old neck and upper back injuries flared up again. After a session of electro-acupuncture and a quick adjustment, I was back to chasing my kid around without any problem.

Some people do not believe in the power of acupuncture or chiropractic care. I’m guessing they have either not tried it or haven’t gone to the right doctor. For me, there is nothing else that can compare. For aches, pains, and sore muscles, I much prefer alternative methods that are healing and restorative rather than rely on conventional medical methods, like prescription drugs. For the same price as a few prescription bottles of Flexiril or Vicodin, I would much rather be stuck with a few needles and have my spine cracked. The best part of all, the healing effects of treatment last much longer than the duration of any prescription drug.

Have you tried acupuncture or chiropractic care? If not, what’s stopping you?

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