Friday, January 28, 2011

Relaxation for Tooth Pain

I have developed some serious tooth pain this week after a few weekends of lots of activity. (Bear with me while I set the scene.) Two weekends ago Dave and I took a trip to visit friends (Jan 15-17) and last weekend (Jan 21-22) I co-led the annual Winter Reflection Retreat at Camp Amnicon with Molly from Yoga North. This was our second year in a row being the facilitators and we had a great group.

Being the teacher of relaxation and reflection is a funny place to be though. I am not "zen" enough to be totally relaxed while I am teaching relaxation, which I think is a bit funny. But teaching is not the same as receiving. So while the weekend was lovely, it was not 100% relaxing for me.

Molly and I each had our own little hermitage cabin, which are the cutest little dwellings you ever did see. Cabins: about 12 x 16 with a gas "fireplace" furnace, well appointed double bed, glide rocker, writing table, eating table, a lamp for each sitting place, mini-fridge, microwave, bread-maker, water jug, tiny sink (with a bucket for plumbing) and heated out-house. Lovely space. I didn't do much sleeping in it though. My mind wouldn't turn off and neither would the lovely, warm and flickery fireplace (it was very cold out side and the furnace had to keep up).

The second day of the retreat, my partner, Dave (who also brought our dog), and Molly's partner, Jason, joined us. We had decided to try to stay a second night this year so we could get some relaxation post teaching. We had a great time, snacking by the lodge's huge hearth, having a glass of wine, and hiking in the morning. Again though, deep sleep eluded me. We left on Sunday and I was somewhat exhausted.

Monday morning I took the dog out, took a deep breath of cold fresh air and had a searing pain in my upper right jaw/teeth. OK, my teeth are sensitive anyway so I thought, "Wow, must be really cold out." But then I went in, made myself a big cup of hot tea (generally not a problem for me to eat or drink hot things), took one sip and BANG! another huge searing tooth pain. Not good! I determined that I could only eat mouth-temperature food. Nothing hot, nothing cold.

I've had some tooth pain trouble before so I knew that I should try a few days on ibuprofen to see if I had any inflammation that would go down. Two days later, still have the tooth pain and now I have a stomach ache from all the ibuprofen too. Great. So I finally make a dentist appointment and I am able to get in on Thursday - 4 days now of tooth pain whenever I eat anything warmer or cooler than the inside of my mouth.

I was sure all my teeth would have to be pulled and I'd have to get dentures (maybe a bit dramatic but that's how much it hurt). The dentist performed some kind of ice-cold, metal rod, tooth sensitivity test. Guess what? My teeth are off the charts sensitive. But the good news is that I don't have to have any teeth pulled nor do I need a root canal (my nerves are very much alive, thank you). I might be a night-time jaw clencher or grinder, which can cause inflammation and sensitivity, and would require a mouth guard to break the habit and reduce sensitivity.

But here's the kicker: my dentist told me that I needed to relax. How do you like that? A restorative yoga teacher who is prescribed relaxation. It's a bit ironic but it makes sense. I've had two very busy weekends in a row with not so great sleep. Good sleep and relaxation help reduce stress which helps the body to fight inflammation. Inflammation can irritate the nerves in the mouth and cause tooth pain. So, I am back on ibuprofen, I have a special paste I have to put on my teeth before bed, and I have to relax more if I want to avoid the mouth guard and further pain.

Yoga teacher, heal thyself.