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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Rick Beckman