adventures in occlusal guards

occlusal guard

I bought myself a present the other day. An occlusal guard, aka a night guard to keep me from grinding my teeth, which gives me headaches and jaw aches, both of which make me a damn pleasant person to be around. In fact, I’m doing it right now.

Hang on, let me go get my guard.

Also, you know how annoying it is when someone keeps saying the wrong word? Like when they say PinINterest instead of Pinterest? Or “Do you twitter?” I was that person every time I called the dentist and chatted with them about my “occlusional guard.” Rhymes with delusional.

Christian was the one who alerted me of the night time teeth grinding when we moved in together 16ish years ago (today is actually our 14th wedding anniversary, yeehaw!). The fun part though is teeth grinding has now become a recurring daytime activity! It comes in waves in a combination of stress and habit.

Basically I do it when I’m thinking a lot.

Sitting at my desk and stressing over a work thing? Grind.

Lying wide awake in bed, anxious about an upcoming trip? Grind.

Juggling the afternoon activities/interactions/moods of three girls? Grind.

Fretting about writing or not writing or my place in the world? Grind.

Stuck at gymnastics with an iPhone battery that’s down to 18%? Grind.

Driving in the car and overthinking every conversation I had with everyone at that event 6 days ago? Or maybe just every single human interaction I’ve ever had? GRIND GR-GR-GRIND to the rhythm of the music!

My thoughts and I are super fun to be around.

Moving on.

A friend of mine had to wear an occlusal guard practically 24/7 for a while. She felt like a dope, but she admitted it was the only time her jaw could actually relax, which is a relief when you suffer from TMJ and grinding. I’m experiencing something similar, except the complete opposite because I’m not even sure it fits right. (Me: “It doesn’t really feel all that comfortable…In fact, it kinda hurts…” Dentist: “Well, it fits. Bye.”).

Also, instead of relaxing, I’m mostly just trying not to vomit.

I have a terrible gag reflex. Make all your jokes; I know it’s hilarious. Getting X-rays at the dentist, or putting anything foreign in my mouth, really (LAUGH IT UP), requires an act of pure strength and deep breathing exercises to keep from spitting up a healthy dose of my breakfast.

So basically I’m trying to adjust to wearing it around during the day, except for when I’m eating or drinking coffee or working out, so maybe 15 minutes? 20? I’m not grinding my teeth, but I am putting an awful lot of energy towards NOT gagging. Currently: trying not to gag. In 26 seconds: still trying not to gag.

Okay, I just had to take it out because apparently writing about gagging made me gag and I had a mini panic attack. Happy gagging/not grinding!

Join the Conversation


  1. I have a night guard too! I started grinding my teeth at a very young age and it continued only causing me to feel the pain you described in my adulthood. I’m going on 10 years with the same guard (yay!) and (eww!). It felt horrible the first week I had it. I thought I would never get used to it and now I can’t sleep without it! I don’t wear it during the day though. I don’t think I could handle that! Anyway, it has made a tremendous difference in my life, so I hope you can get used to it (at least at night). Good luck!

    1. It’s good to know so many others hated it at first but got used to it. I look forward to not gagging soon!

  2. I could probably benefit from one of these as well. I’m pretty sure I do a fair amount of grinding as well but my dentist has never mentioned it so… Hope you get used to it soon!

  3. Sounds like a real grind. Har har har. Gagging and Grinding would be a good name for a nightclub. I’ll stop now. I hope your occlusional guard is working!

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