"Coincidences" are odd in general. But, some are really odd.
All last week, my jaw was hurting so badly. I was actually wincing in pain sometimes. Of course, I knew this probably had to do with the fact that the left side of my jaw was popping out of place more than ever. But, I couldn't find anything to make it feel better. (This has been happening every so often since high school, but I am 99% sure I don't grind my teeth in my sleep - which I was told is the main cause of this problem, otherwise known as TMJ. It had also never hurt this badly before.)
I was planning to see a specialist this past weekend. But first, I decided to mention it to my chiropractor who has been treating me since I was in a car wreck earlier this summer. I wondered if his adjustments to the highest region of my neck/spine could be affecting a change in my jaw. Better yet, I was wondering if he could do anything to help my jaw and make the pain go away.
He looked at me intently. Touched my face. Touched my neck. Put his ear up to my jaw to hear it pop. Actually, put on latex gloves to touch inside my cheek. It was all pretty funny...as I told him that I had no idea why this was happening. But, he quickly diagnosed that the jaw/cheek muscle (maybe called a masticator?) on my right side is much larger and tighter than the muscle on my left. Therefore, because the right one is so tight, the left side has basically no other choice than to pop out of place to open up as widely as the rest of my mouth is telling it to do so.
He gave me some exercises to do to try and relax the right side. And, did them throughout the weekend. While the pain has diminished, the popping has not.
This morning, I rushed around the office and to some meetings so that I could try to get a lot accomplished before leaving for my regular appointment with my chiropractor. Before heading out the door, I also attempted to read all of my email from the morning, and I saw that I had received an email from my church friend, Liz. Along with the reply to my email from the day before, she also included a note stating that her mom (Sister Karen Anderson) had sent her a "word of the day" from the day before...and told Liz that she was "thinking of her". Liz knows how I love learning new vocabulary words, so I was thankful she shared. The word was BRUXISM. I had no idea what that was...and I didn't have time to look it up before running out the door to my appointment. But, my only guess was that it had to do with comforting someone or something to do with a difficult situation Liz has been handling (incredibly well) lately. Either way, I had to rush to make my appointment on time. Dictionary.com would have to wait.
So, I saw the doctor, and he asked for an update on my jaw. I told him the current status, but I tried to press him on what in the world could be causing me to have this problem...since I don't grind my teeth. He said that, whether I knew it or not, I was most probably clenching my jaw/teeth in my sleep every night. He rattled off a bunch of information, but added, "This is also called bruxism."
You should have seen my face - JAW WIDE OPEN - then! Who would have thought?
From the American Heritage Dictionary:
The habitual, involuntary grinding or clenching of the teeth, usually during sleep, as from anger, tension, fear, or frustration.
From Merriam-Webster's Dictionary:
the habit of unconsciously gritting or grinding the teeth especially in situations of stress or during sleep
From Luke 13:28, KJV Bible:
There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.