Misaligned me

About six weeks ago, I started feeling pain in my upper right gum. It wasn’t a toothache exactly as the pain wasn’t in the tooth but rather in the bone and gum around it. I speculated that it might be referred pain from the sinus, which I was experiencing also. I had tightness across the bridge of my nose and filaments of pain around my eye socket and even into my ear. The pain was all on the right side of my face.

I took some antibiotics and felt as if the condition eased before returning to the previous state. At that point, I went to the dentist, hoping they could do something. By now, the ache was constant and had spread across the whole side of my head.

For $450, the dentist examined me and found there was nothing wrong with my teeth. It was probably sinus, he confirmed, and I should see my doctor. He also suggested that it might be a case of grinding teeth causing the pain. There were signs that I was a teeth grinder. Also, my jaws were slightly misaligned.

A previous dentist had told me that I grind my teeth, but it had never caused any discomfort. I went to my doctor, who was as useful as ever but prescribed another course of antibiotics nonetheless.

I had two courses of antibiotics now, and the sinus is much better than it was (it’s semi-permanent), but the pain remains and seems to have got worse. The side of my face feels swollen – it isn’t – and the front teeth on the bottom feel sensitive and on edge always – the sort of residual pain when something icy has numbed the teeth. I’m getting headaches from it all – sometimes the sense that my skull is cracked, and at other times as if it was in a vice. For the last few weeks, I’ve been just about living on painkillers to get by.

I’ve concluded that the issue is likely grinding my teeth, though the sudden onset is confusing – I wonder if my jaw has become misaligned somehow? The other night in bed, I caught myself clenching my teeth, which seemed a give-away.

It’s very inconvenient. Continuing pain like this begins to wear you down, not just physically but mentally also. Since discovering my teeth clenched, it’s got inside my head. Lying in bed, I’m conscious of relaxing and not clenching my teeth, but the effect of it is that I sleep even worse than before. And the pain remains.

As far as I know, grinding teeth is often a stress reaction. I can believe it, though I’m surprised it’s taken so long to become evident. I’m now in a situation where I’m unsure what to do about it. My most optimistic hope is that the grinding stops once I stop stressing – but as most of it is unconscious, how do I manage that? The other option is back to the dentist and being fit for an expensive – and uncomfortable – mouthguard.

Something has to give. The pain isn’t intense, but it’s uncomfortable and never goes away. A headache pill will take the edge off it, but there’s still a sense of numbness. It’s been like that for most of the last 6 weeks, and the thought it could go on for another 6 weeks, or more is awful.

It’s very much the sort of thing I’ve had to deal with the last year or so. I feel as if it’s one small thing after another. Nothing serious in itself, but taken altogether uncomfortable and annoying.

For other reasons, I’m seeing an endocrinologist for the first time tomorrow morning. It feels quite mysterious – I’m not sure exactly what they do or how they can help me. I go to them with a list of ailments and the narrative that the system is misfiring – that my physical entity feels misaligned and out of sync.

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