July 10, 2009
Your teeth are as white as sheep, recently shorn and freshly washed. Your smile is flawless, each tooth matched with its twin. Song of Solomon 4:2
People with neuropathic facial pain, trigeminal neuralgia, and jaw joint issues such as TMJ know how difficult it can be to floss or to brush one's teeth. Oral hygiene is a challenge. When I think of flossing or going to the dentist, I have a lot of anxiety. But when I look at my gums, I have even more.
White teeth and a flawless smile are things that so many people want. The commercials for whitening strips and cosmetic dentistry seem to be prevalent. I just used the 14 day whitening strips from Crest, the ones where the advertisement says that you can drink water while wearing them. They worked well. A few years ago, I tried the 30 day strips. They wouldn’t stay on my teeth. Sometimes whitening agents can trigger orofacial pain. My orofacial pain specialist recommended the most recent product I used. It didn’t trigger pain.
My facial pain is coming from my jaw. For the first time in my life, my teeth are crooked. The cause is not something I am prepared to share with others at this time, but it makes more even more concerned about flossing.
There are so many days when I absolutely cannot floss. In fact, they are most days. I also have days when I cannot brush my teeth. I struggle with those days. There is something about the mechanism of moving my jaw around to floss that causes terrible pain. So on my good days, I floss. Flossing aggravates the situation and often causes pain, pain, pain. Have I said pain enough? Here's the good news: I've been able to floss twice this week.
I am thankful for mouthwash and for toothpastes that help fight bacteria yet cause less stinging. One of those is Biotene. Another is Tom’s natural toothpaste.
Most of all, I am thankful for God's grace. He sees me through the difficult times and gives me rest when I feel that I cannot tolerate another day of being in this situation. He gives me hope for tomorrow. I remember years ago, experiencing the pain of trigeminal neuralgia: I did not want to see the next day. It was during those desperate days that I realized that Jesus was my best friend. I had been a Christian most of my life, but I had never realized how desperately I needed God.
Have you read With Great Mercy?