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This is what the veggies see before I swallow

My mouth

One of the numerous remedies I tried for the case of the curious headache that would not go away was a mouth guard. I grind my teeth, just like my older brother and just like other members of my family. The fancy schmancy medical term for this is bruxism. There is no “cure,” but you can wear a plastic mouth guard at night that protects your molars from damage.

You can get an el cheapo night guard at any drug store, but since I had dental insurance I decided to use it and get the premium customized model from my dentist. To do this, he had to make a mold of my teeth which involved two trays of goopy gunk and a strong will to suppress the gag reflex. They then cast a model of my teeth from the impressions and made the mouth guard from that model. When I picked up the mouth guard, they also gave me the model since they don’t have room to store them all.

These days my teeth can be found on my bathroom counter, next to the small alligator head a friend of mine brought back from Florida. Who’s got the better chompers?

Croc mouth

Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away
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23 Comments

Tracyb • April 21, 2009 at 10:23 am

That’s too funny!

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Yum Yucky • April 21, 2009 at 10:31 am

Whoa! The pictures caught me off guard and scared the hell out of me….whoa!

My 13 year old son grinds his teeth too and we just got a mouth guard yesterday. Let’s see what happens.

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Jules • April 21, 2009 at 10:47 am

I’m a clencher, I don’t grind, i just clench my teeth into oblivion when I sleep. I got a custom made mouthguard and it works fine. My teeth are fine again, and apart from the hassle of brushing the mouthguard every day (you can get cavities from it otherwise), I’m very happy with it.

Looks damm unsexy though.

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Kara • April 21, 2009 at 10:53 am

Hah! My mom was a dentist and used to bring these home for my brother and I to play with, before it was common to give them to the patients. I never really thought about it before, but I guess that’s a little weird, huh? :) I just remember having rows of teeth lined up on my windowsill when I was a kid.

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SANDY • April 21, 2009 at 10:57 am

I am a grinder clencher too I even catch myself during the day in a grip hold of a clench but the problem for me is that I still clench the mouth guard. So I still have a headache from that. I dont wear out my teeth as quickly..however, it didnt really help my morning headaches..I clench and grind on the dumb mouth guard..I must be full of stress!!

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jenna • April 21, 2009 at 12:26 pm

I just got braces and had to do sooo many of those molds for the whole process. They are the worst! I am actually getting one of those mouth gaurds too…for a different reason though. Have you tried to sleep with it yet? is it uncomfortable?

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kristisummer • April 21, 2009 at 12:43 pm

a tooth grinder eh? I work for a dentist and have a night guard too. With stress these days we all grind. Hope it works.

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Tiffany • April 21, 2009 at 12:47 pm

Growing up, my mom worked as a dental technician making retainers and other dental appliances in her own lab in our home. Not only did I grow up surrounded by models of other people’s teeth, but she had to practice making them as well… guess who her favorite guinea pig “patient” was? Even to this day, seeing those models makes me gag just a little.

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PastaQueen • April 21, 2009 at 12:47 pm

@jenna – It feels fine. It’s not uncomfortable. I do have to keep it moist when I store it, which can be a pain because the cats liked to knock the container over. Now it’s stored in my cupboard because they can’t get in there :)

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Jay • April 21, 2009 at 1:41 pm

I have a mouth guard but I stopped wearing it because I clenched my jaw so hard in my sleep that by the morning it was almost impossible to prise off my teeth again.

I don’t know if I still clench/grind, but the headaches went away eventually. Hope yours does someday, too.

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p. potter • April 21, 2009 at 2:58 pm

You know what’s weird? My dentist has a small alligator head in one of his examination rooms–right next to the mold of someone’s mouth.

I guess it’s a common comparison?

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Dee • April 21, 2009 at 3:13 pm

I too am a clencher, if I forget to put in my mouth guard I’ll wake up sometimes biting my tongue or with my neck muscles all tight due too clenching. Its annoying to wear one, especially if you are trying to be you know romantic…hey wait I’ll put on my nightguard and you wear the cheerleader outfit and I’ll pretend I’m the football player tonight…Just awkwaard. LOL

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Erica • April 21, 2009 at 3:46 pm

I love stuff like this! I have a framed panaromic X-ray of my mouth from when I got my wisdom teeth out. You can even see the earrings on my skull because I forgot to take them out.

(I am a former archaeologist. My love of this junk may have something to do with that.)

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PastaQueen • April 21, 2009 at 4:03 pm

@Erica – That reminds me, I also have an x-ray showing my 5 wisdom teeth. (I am very wise.)

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Tara • April 21, 2009 at 4:34 pm

@PastaQueen – Polident makes this soak for mouth guards/retainers. Not only does it keep them moist, but it also disinfects them! You can buy it at most drug stores.

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Camevil • April 21, 2009 at 6:05 pm

1. I remember seeing a drag contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race wear a headpiece with one of those alligator heads attached to it. Loved and hated it at the same time. At least he found a use for it.

2. Those are the best bathroom fixtures evah.

3. Did the mouthguard work?

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Amy • April 21, 2009 at 6:27 pm

No fair! I didn’t get to keep the mould of my teeth when I got my mouthguard :(

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PastaQueen • April 21, 2009 at 7:00 pm

@Camevil – It works at preventing wear on my teeth due to grinding. It didn’t help my headache.

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Shauna Weiss • April 21, 2009 at 9:10 pm

I’m a grinder too, big time!! I used to have a guard from the dentist but lost it so I’m about to try the drugstore brand. Hopefully my hubby will be able to sleep now! :)

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anji • April 22, 2009 at 10:08 pm

Don’t buy the retainer cleaner to clean them, it’s way too expensive. Get the denture cleaner… you get like, 3 times the amount for the same price and it’s minty clean :P

Just be sure to rinse it off well (i don’t always use toothpaste) but – I rinse them about every other day with the polident….also, make sure if it’s one of those ones where you need to make it warm before you fit it in, be sure to do that. Then it fits more better. Not HOT water, just warm water.

It’s weird, takes about two weeks to get used to it… have fun!

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Sarah • April 23, 2009 at 12:33 am

@Jay – I do the same thing! Most mornings i need a crow bar or something to pry the think off the roof of my mouth. And if I have a nightmare, it’s ten times worse. Just the other night I dreamed I was being chased by dementors and the expecto patronus charm didn’t work. Hmph.

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Rachael • April 26, 2009 at 8:48 pm

@Tara – Thanks for the tip! I just bought a nightguard today because I’ve been clinching. I’ll have to look for the cleanser stuff tomorrow.

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Barbara Martin • May 6, 2009 at 3:41 pm

I am also a grinder and a clencher and recently got a new kind of night guard called an NTI. It just fits over your front teeth (either top of bottom, depending on your bite), and prevents you from closing your mouth all the way so you can’t clench or grind. It’s done wonders for relaxing the muscles in my neck and head and I haven’t done any further damage to my teeth. It rocks. My dentist made it in the office in around an hour.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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