Teeth Grinding, Not Just for Sleepers

Today was my first Invisalign checkup at my dentist; it’s been just under six weeks since I started wearing the Invisalign trays, and I an already notice rather significant changes in my teeth alignment — taking the trays out and biting down, I don’t recognize the “bite” at all. My upper teeth and lower teeth just aren’t getting along the way they used to. Conceivably, they’re getting along better, and more so all the time.

So we — my loverly wife and I — left for the appointment shortly after 8 this morning; arrived at the dentist a minute or two after 9, which was for when the appointment was scheduled. The waiting room wait flew by as well — probably not more than five minutes.

Then I was back in the exam room, my third set of trays removed, ready to get the forth. I’ve been dreading this checkup, though — not because I got the next three sets of trays, certainly.

No, this visit, I was told, would entail grinding away the edges of some of my teeth to allow them ample room to move into the position the Invisalign trays were pushing them.

Yeah, that doesn’t sound pleasant at all. Evidently my teeth were too fat too grow in straight — or maybe I should have gotten my wisdom teeth pulled years ago rather than waiting until earlier this year, allowing them to push all my other teeth forward, bunching them up a bit.

Whatever the case may be, the dental assistant set me up with my next set of trays then called for the dentist, who popped into the room no less than a few seconds after her page. (Combined total waiting time so far? Still less than five minutes; I’ve never had an appointment like this before!)

He checked out how the forth set of trays were setting in my mouth — I had to move my appointment up by a few days, so I technically am starting on the fourth set early. He approved and asked that I remove the top tray.

Oh noes! The grinding!

I don’t really know what I was expecting — a mechanized grinder? a rigid file?

What the dental assistant gave to the dentist, though, looked more like a narrow strip of sandpaper than anything I had imagined would be used. The difference between sandpaper and what the dentist had? Apparently this stuff was some sort of pliable metal file. In retrospect, I really should have asked.

This stuff’s similarity to sandpaper was only reinforced when the dentist started using it in my mouth.

Threading it between predetermined teeth like a piece of floss, the dentist quite literally started flossing my teeth away — the grinding sound was horrendous, worsened by the fact I heard it loud and clear as the sound traveled through my bones to my ears.

Amazingly, though, no pain. Every now and then, a cold drink can make my teeth scream in agony, but grinding the enamel into dust is a painless procedure. I can’t help but be amused by that.

The teeth sandpaper stuff isn’t as friendly with gums like floss is; one little nick, and I glance down to see the dentist’s gloves red with blood.

I really hate the site of my own blood. I’m not a big fan of my own mortality; I don’t need a blood reminder of the fragility of life.

After rinsing away the powdered remains of the edges of half a dozen teeth, I returned the fourth tray to my mouth, set up my next appointment, and my wife & I were on our way.

When we got back to the car, I eyeballed my teeth in the rearview mirror. Bleeding into Invisalign trays makes for quite the brutal-looking smile, believe you me.

I’m home now, and I’ve given my teeth the star treatment they’ve grown accustomed to over the past six weeks — brushing with overpriced toothpaste and rinsing with overpriced mouthwash. (I skipped flossing if only because I flossed this morning and haven’t eaten since.) I didn’t really notice any difference in the shape or size of my teeth, so I guess a subtle change is all that is needed to make enough room.

The point is, if you’re thinking about getting Invisalign, they may not tell you prior to your agreement to the year(ish)-long procedure that they may need to sandpaper away some of your enamel.

That may just be a happy surprise they spring on you when you’re picking up your first set of trays. ;)

2 thoughts on “Teeth Grinding, Not Just for Sleepers”

  1. Aren’t medical procedures the best? And why is it that these personal health nightmares are the most popular posts? The frustration of the blogger.

    I have a personal interest in all teeth grinding stories. In my sleep over the years, I’ve ground my teeth (clenched my jaws actually) so that I’ve worn through the enamel on my molars, right to the dentin!!! I mean, what kind of relaxed sleep could that possibly be? Must be a type A personality thing. I believe my teeth change position every night now because of the tray thing I wear to protect what’s left of my poor teeth.

    But why did yours bleed? Sure would have liked to see that picture, at this time of vampire movies and all. Must have been dramatic. Teeth don’t bleed unless you get to the middle, do they? or cut the gums?

    Through it all, it doesn’t sound like you had much pain to contend with, thankfully. Pain is the great demoralizer. It’s a bad thing. If you can smile and bleed at once with those trays, you must be doing ok.

  2. christine: Hey, welcome to the new site. :)

    Yeah, the bleeding was due to my gums being nicked by the “sandpaper” stuff. Barely any of my enamel was ground away — though it sure felt like a lot was being removed! — so definitely nowhere near the inner tooth.

    I grind my teeth at night as well — which is another thing the Invisalign trays are helping with. Instead of grinding my teeth, I’m simply grinding the Invisalign trays against each other, which does no harm. :)

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