Dear Overnight Mouth Guard,
When my dentist told me two years ago that, because I grind my teeth so badly while I sleep, I would have to wear a mouth guard every night for the rest of my life, I have to admit - I was skeptical. Apparently, if my teeth-grinding continued at the rapid rate it was at, my teeth would simply turn into grains of sand within two years, and I would begin to start accidentally swallowing my own teeth sand while eating a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant, which would not have been cool. The only way to put a halt to this erosion was to wear a mouth guard, so I could rest easy knowing that my top and bottom teeth would not be playing a game of tug-of-war inside my mouth, because they could not get through the impenetrable force-field of hard plastic that cost around $800.
Still, I wondered, was I being punished for all those years of neglecting to wear that hellish overnight, denim head-set for my braces, that resembled a football helmet from 1934? And the rubber bands for my braces? And the retainer for my post-braces life? What cruel twist of fate handed down a lifetime sentence of wearing a mouth guard to a 25 year-old man, who was just reaching the prime of his professional and dental life? If I had only worn that head-set! I knew the day of reckoning would come, but I never wanted to face it.
The hardest part of it all was the realization that I would have to wear YOU, my mouth guard, for eternity. It wasn’t as if my dentist had told me to wear you for a few months, and then I could dispose of you like the various dental apparatuses of childhood. Because alas – like Herpes, there is no cure for teeth grinding. I was stuck with you, like a conjoined twin whose twin is an extra row of fake teeth. And not only that – I would have to wear you every time I fell asleep, which included not only the requisite nightly eight hours, but also the occasional afternoon nap. I would have to bring you on airplanes, just in case. “Would you like to check that, sir?” No thank you – it’s just my mouth guard. Also, it is a good thing I am not narcoleptic, because then I would have to wear you constantly.
It was difficult to get used to you, I must admit. I was accustomed to wearing a mouthpiece on various athletic fields as a kid, which was actually kind of cool. Plus, those ones were much softer. Wearing an extra-hard mouth guard during the largely unathletic event of sleeping is not quite as cool. Also, it was difficult to swallow with a foreign object lodged into my upper row of teeth.
But at least you smelled good. Oh wait – did I say good? I meant to say, “like someone dropped a pound of raw sewage into my mouth.” Morning breath is bad enough, but morning breath with a stank-ass mouth guard in your mouth is at least five-times worse. In turn, I would not being going out a limb to say that you adversely affected my love life. This has led to exchanges similar to this:
Wife: Are you feeling frisky tonight?
Me: Why yeff, I ab.
Wife: What’s that smell?
And it was one thing when you embarrassed me at home, but on the road was even worse. Every time my wife and I were invited to sleep over somewhere, I had to put you into your little blue carrying case, and pack you into my gym bag. And all you would do is clang, clang, around in there. “Oh, it’s so good to see you guys! Let me take your stuff. Hey Mike, what’s that clang, clanging around in your bag? Did you bring a board game?” Oh no, actually that’s my overnight mouth guard. But we can still play with it if you want. Just don’t let the dog near it.
But you know what, mouth guard – I think you’re starting to grow on me. I looked at you the other day, shook my head and said to myself, “Oh mouth guard – you son of a gun!” We’re like two totally different cops from a movie who can’t stand each other. I’m the cop who is nice but grinds his teeth, and you’re the cop who is a jerk and smells like ass. But we’ve done so many things together, that it’s only right we’ve become friends. We’ve got each other’s back. Back row of teeth, that is. Ha, ha, ha!
I’m getting used to you, mouth guard. It just wouldn’t be a normal morning without me waking up, pulling you out of my mouth with the accompaniment of a long strand of nasty salvia, brushing my real teeth, and then brushing you. I love drying you off with toilet paper, and then returning you to your blue case, only to count the hours until I can see you again. Every once in a while, I give you a bath in a cup of mouthwash. This way, you won’t smell bad for like, three seconds.
Well, I guess what I’m trying to say is, I love you mouth guard. I wouldn’t want to spend the rest of my life with anybody else.
You’re much better than Herpes.
Your best friend,