We can get used to anything. For the past five years or so, I have gotten used to chronic, severe pain in my neck and shoulders. It’s not constant, but it is something I have been waking up with almost every day, and noticing off and on while I am awake. I’ve attributed it to many things: “stress,” aging, too much computer time, and most recently, tensing up over the low computer/cash registers at my little job. I was resigned to the prospect of life with this pain.

And then…

I went to a new dentist. “Do you clench or grind your teeth?” she asked. I didn’t think so. She asked a few more questions, poked around a little more, had me open and close my mouth a few times. She was pretty sure I was a clencher, and that this habit was responsible for the current sorry state of my teeth. No cavities, but vertical fractures.

Since I don’t eat rocks or use my mouth on household projects, I had to consider her suggestion seriously. I promised to be mindful of how I held my mouth (always a good  practice, really.)

My upper and lower teeth were hitting each other in all the wrong places.  By resting my tongue against the roof of my mouth, I could maintain my bite properly. I paid particular attention to this when I went to bed that night.

I woke up pain-free yesterday morning, and again today. I am elated.

I share this because it might be helpful to someone else, and also as an example of how we harm ourselves, obliviously and unintentionally. If only it was always so easy to find and fix.

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