A frenecto-what?

I had an extremely knowledgeable hygienist at the dentist’s office today.

In fact, I would so far as to say that she was like the Google of dental hygiene. It was really rather impressive.

I never thought I could learn so much getting my teeth cleaned.

I clench my jaw and grind my teeth. (That wasn’t something I learned today. I knew that. I’ve done it for years.) But what I didn’t know is that if you grind your teeth during the day, you most likely grind your teeth at night with eight times more force.

Sometimes I clench my jaw during the day so hard that it hurts. I’m not sure how I could survive eight times that pressure all night, but apparently I do.

The cure is a night guard. Last December I wrote that I wasn’t going to get a night guard, but that eight times the pressure thing got me thinking maybe I should consider it.

I can think of better ways to spend $220 (because insurance won’t cover it, of course) but I’d hate to crack my teeth or bite my tongue off in my sleep.

While the hygienist was telling me about all that pressure, she said that your teeth should only touch each other when you’re talking or eating.

I almost feel out of the chair when she said that. My teeth are always touching each other. I guess that’s because I clench.

As soon as she removed that water sucking thingy from my mouth I said, “Really?” I must have sounded very incredulous, because she laughed at me. But nicely.

She then showed me how to lift my chin, lick my lips and swallow in order to relax and realign my jaw and separate my teeth.

It sounds good, in theory, but if I went through that process every time I realized my teeth were touching, I wouldn’t have time to do anything else.

Then, once we got though the clenching/grinding discussion, the hygienist pointed out that I have a receding gum on one of my teeth. It’s caused by something called a “frenulum.”

You know that skin that attaches your upper lip to you gum? That’s a frenulum. I have one on the side, as well as the front. A lot of people do.

When I smile or chew or move my mouth, the frenulum pulls on the gum making it recede.

I’ve always noticed that gum was higher than the rest. And I also noticed that the top of my gum was lower on one side than the other. Now I know that it’s not really lower and why that one gum is higher.

If it starts causing gum problems, I could have a frenectomy, where someone (I’m assuming a dentist or doctor) cuts the frenulum.

That sounds kind of painful to me. And an awful lot of work for one gum.

But it was interesting to know.

I’ve never been fond of going to the dentist, but if I keep making appointments with today’s hygienist at least I’ll be getting private crash course in dental hygiene with each visit.

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