Night Guard

Sometimes I think it’s a shame I didn’t live in an era before modern orthodontics. I have naturally occurring straight teeth—no medical intervention went into the making of my smile—and I figure that back in pre-braces times this feature would have made me stand out, godlike, among the snaggletoothed masses.

Of course, those days were also lacking in stuff like antibiotics and gay rights. So I guess I prefer the present, even though my natural endowment can now be co-opted by anybody who springs for Invisalign. 

You really shouldn’t get credit for attributes you were born with anyway. Okay, well, I wasn’t born with teeth. And the Tooth Fairy collected the first set I had. But you know what I mean.

You should only be admired for acts of compassion and perseverance and moral courage, not for your symmetrical face and broad shoulders and other characteristics you won in a genetic sweepstakes.

By making this argument, am I leading you to suspect that I have a small penis? I hope not. 

Though my teeth are straight, they are not without imperfections. For starters, I still have a baby tooth in my mouth’s upper right quadrant. So I didn’t relinquish the full set to the Tooth Fairy after all. 

What’s more, oral X-rays have revealed that there’s no adult tooth behind the baby holdout, so if the latter ever does fall out, I’ll need to get an implant or join at last the snaggletoothed masses. 

I’ve asked dentists what gives, vis-à-vis my failure to sprout a second tooth in that slot. They just shrug and say something about genetics, which I’m pretty sure is a dig at my Southern upbringing. I’ll have you know that the gummy smiles of my fellow Arkansans are not a result of our DNA but of our crippling meth addictions, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

The baby tooth isn’t loose or anything, but its roots don’t go very deep. My dentist says that it could fall out someday when I bite into something hard. 

I consider this yet another good reason to avoid Jordan almonds. 

Another thing wrong with my teeth is that my canines aren’t as sharp as they used to be. This suggests, according to my dentist, that I grind my teeth in my sleep.

Other signs of the same activity, he says, include waking up with headaches and tension in the jaw. I haven’t noticed those symptoms, but then, I’m pretty tense all over, so maybe I have tension in the jaw but have been unable to isolate the source of the stiffness. 

Is it me, or does “isolate the source of the stiffness” sound like the world’s all-time worst euphemism for masturbation?

In any case, I don’t want to wear down my teeth to the size of partially digested Tic Tacs. So I let the dental office fit me for a night guard. It’s this plastic mold of the top row of my teeth. I’m supposed to keep it in my mouth while I sleep in order to thwart my unconscious nocturnal grinding. 

How come everything I write in this post comes out sounding filthy?

If you ask me, the name of the anti-grinding device lacks clarity. “Night guard” makes me think of a sleepy security guy working the graveyard shift or Jon Snow and company keeping watch on an icy wall.

You wouldn’t automatically know from its name what a night guard actually is: some hard thing that feels too big for my mouth and makes me slobber. 

Okay, you heard the filthiness that time, right?

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