Bruxism - tooth grinding: excess EMF or elevated homocysteine?
My no good, bad, horrible day and night - a human knockout mouse story.
I messed up again, but that is life. I have really had to adjust my thinking to focus on today is a new day and how can I do it better? rather than focusing on negative shaming or other hopelessness. Life is not fair. Humans and other species do have an instinct for fairness and sharing even - but we and other species can also display deception and predator behavior. That is a tangent from bruxism.
I had a really bad night two nights ago, and was out of commission all day yesterday practically. During the night of EMF like back of the head cramps, I was also noticing jaw clenching and it did hurt. I had eaten too much pomegranate seeds and peel and was low electrolytes from the diuretic effect and I had stayed up late, ate too much and smoked too much marijuana. I woke up congested and took a Mucinex and that turned my upset belly into projectile vomiting for a night and day.
News to know for medical marijuana users - too much THC can be a cause of projectile vomiting. The pHAdjust bicarbonate water helped the muscle cramps some but too much of it made the stomach worse. Other reasons for the vomiting might have been what I overate included oxalate rich foods and excess oxalates seem to make me want to throw up later. I also had likely eaten more salicylate and sulfate than I had been trying to do. The racing heart was present and eventually muscle cramps got really bad and then it was pain, kind of extreme pain in my extremities. When your electrolytes are off balance — it is a bad thing. Laying on the floor next to the toilet because the bed is too far away, and then chilled from being too cold —level bad.
The webinar on Eating Disorders by a dietitian who works with the population (rather than who seemed personally familiar with the problems that can occur with appetite and weight control) really helped point out that life control may be part of the problem. Eating disorders are more common for people with ADHD and the dietitian said she often had to help, or refer, for lifecoaching - getting the daily routine more into a balanced routine with good food earlier in the day to try to prevent the binging later. Reducing dopamine is also a need for that though - not staying up late with bright screen dopamine increasing social media or dopamine elevating nicotine, alcohol, or marijuana — avoid the Home Shopper’s TV stations too ;-).
Bitesplint circa 1985 vs 2018
Tooth grinding and TMJ jaw pain is something I had in my teen and college years and I got one of the very first bite splints at a dental university. The teacher had students to instruct as my bite splint was fitted and then sculpted to improve the bite alignment. The theory was that I grind my teeth at night and had jaw pain because of the grinding and it is related to the fact that my teeth don’t line up when I close my jaw straight and if I line up my teeth, then my jaw is out of alignment.
The specially fitted bite splint was a new model in that they were making a lower jaw mold for me instead of the upper jaw. The sculpting to make it line up my jaw correctly (the goal) involved biting down on a black goo strip that would leave black marks where my upper and lower teeth were bumping or my upper teeth were hitting the bitesplint. It took a little while and several re-bitings of the black strip. This was circa 1985. I was given some muscle strengthening exercises for my jaw alignment too - strengthen with a focus on staying with the jaw in alignment and avoiding the unaligned tooth position.
It seemed to work, kind of. My TMJ jaw pain was not gone but improved and I learned to relax my jaw at night - to leave a 1/4 inch gap between the unaligned teeth, and maybe stick the tip of my tongue in the gap as a reminder not to bite. Even during the day, I learned to relax my jaw and simply not try to line up my misaligned teeth. Skipping ahead a bit, I found a reference that mentions who tends to have bruxism - youths and young people more than old people. (xcode.life) Maybe learning to relax your jaw while you sleep is something we get better at as we age.
The prevalence of sleep bruxism is estimated to be around 15% in adolescents, around 8% of middle-aged adults, and only 3% in older adults. According to statistical studies 6-50% of children experience nighttime teeth grinding. (xcode.life)
Flash forward to the last few years and two different dentists telling me with 100% confidence that I grind my teeth at night and need a bitesplint. I let the first dentist make me one even though I couldn’t really afford it and knew it would be unlikely for me to use regularly at night because I was traveling frequently. It didn’t improve my bite alignment - seemed to make it worse. None of the little black goo strip steps had been taken to finetune the initial molded plastic. On repeat visits they kept prompting me to bring it back in to be fitted better - BUT I didn’t think I grind my teeth at night anymore. I remembered what it had been like and would wake up grinding them together occasionally in my college years.
Bruxism in my youth may have involved elevated homocysteine
Bruxism showed up in my deep dive into elevated homocysteine which is a risk for me genetically and which based on classic symptoms, I definitely had it as a youth (long limbs and fingers/toes, knock knees, mild scoliosis) and probably still hadn’t changed enough of my selfcare in college to improve it.
Post excerpt: Hyperhomocysteinemia is a cardiovascular risk, increasing risk of stroke or atherosclerosis. It also is associated with mental illness, seizures, and skeletal effects: osteoporosis and osteopenia, the NTD scoliosis, sternal deformities, tall stature, dolichostenomelia – abnormally long limbs, arachnodactyly - very long, slender fingers and/or toes, and genu valgum – knock knees, the lower limbs turn inward while the ankles remain apart, seen in younger children. (Mudd, et al., 1985; Weber, et al., 2016, cited by Weber Hoss, Poloni, Blom, Doederlein Schwartz, 2019) Lower bone density may be present in children and adults with chronically elevated homocysteine. (Weber, et al., 2016)
microRNA, elevated homocysteine and is there a role for excess Retinoic Acid? (Substack) Dec. 4, 2022
I also had my first episodes of ~ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in college. I would get so tired that I would want to lay down on the sidewalk sometimes, and I did lay down on a lounge couch where my from German teacher saw me and was concerned. My German or my English was so bad that somehow she was left with the impression that I was tired because I had a sick baby at home. Maybe I called myself a sick baby and she misunderstood. She was a native German speaker.
The importance of biofilm - may need an attitude adjustment (less polite subsection title - GTFO of my biofilm)
The second dentist was more recent - looking for a dental cleaning locally, and I at least learned from the lengthy ‘free screening’ appointment (that had no dental cleaning but had gobs of X-rays) that I have no new cavities. He said I grind my teeth at night and needed a bitesplint and that was the end of the appointment. On my way out the receptionist wanted to schedule me for the follow-up work and I had to ask what she meant — she meant for a new bitesplint. He had taken no history, new nothing about my previous two bitesplints. I also relearned that I have receding gumline — but new thing — bad enough that their office then schedules cleanings in two appointments - half the mouth one day and half another day. I think that would drive me batty to have half polished.
Could we schedule two appointments in one day? Probably not. It was a busy office with a “come in for a free screening (and gobs of X-Rays on our big machine, No, we aren’t interested in transferring records from your previous dentist)” pitch. Also my insurance pays for only one cleaning every six months. Also I don’t really agree with the dental medical model of scraping biofilm instead of improving the health of our essential life promoting cell protecting biofilm. But if I go somewhere else, they will probably want yet more XRays. So I have just been trying to do better with gum and tooth care.
When your mindset is stuck on “disease”, it may not be able to see restoring “health” as the real goal, instead of a need to “kill disease”. Our biofilm protects us when healthy and using the dental mouthwashes that sterilize kill the healthy microbiome every time it is used. The dental offices require a swish with mouthwash now, post CoV policy or they always have maybe.
Bruxism & elevated homocysteine - a lack of B vitamins?
This seems related - Burning Mouth Syndrome was helped by providing folate and B12 and iron if needed to the patients. (Sun, et al, 2013) Other citations offered as on topic referred to atrophic glossitis. Lack of B vitamins including B6, B12 and folate can cause elevated homocysteine and cause poor growth of rapidly growing cells like the surface of our tongue.
An article on a support site for genetic screening has a nice overview of bruxism in which I learn the condition includes grinding or clenching. (xcode.life)
After two dentists were so sure, I did think more about it and A) remembered that an earlier dentist had literally filed down my lower front teeth to even up their crooked tops - maybe the other dentists thought I grind my teeth so much that I had flattened the lower ones myself? Neither had taken much of a dental history.
(Dental Tangent: I was so mad at that former dentist that I sought a second opinion at the time (older history) and was told the other dentist had done nice work. It permanently changed my ability to cut a piece of thread or a hangnail with my crooked lower tooth’s incisor edge - he had filed it away without asking and filled a chip in the wrong tooth. He at least filled the other tooth too when he ‘got done’ and my reaction was more OMG, you didn’t fill the chip that wasn’t visible because it was on the tongue side. GRRRRRR After crying for a week I did find it interesting to realize that I probably had been biting my fingernails all my life, in part because I physically could in a way that other people maybe can’t. I still gnaw at them, but tend to rip off a jagged edge and need to go get a clippers and file.)
The following list of other potential causes of bruxism is enlightening. Buying an almost $2000 bitesplint (cheaper with insurance, but not free) would not help any of those other causal problems and the omniscient dentists didn’t mention any of those other causes regarding the nightly grinding problem that they were sure I had.
Non-genetic Influences on Sleep Bruxism Risk
Sleep bruxism may be accelerated by lifestyle factors as well. Some of them include:
- Alcohol consumption
- Cigarette smoking
- Upper airway resistance
- Caffeine consumption (xcode.life)
So looking at that list - my stress level has been extreme and I haven’t been taking my daily supplements very well. The too much smoking late at night probably is adding a toxin clean up burden to a body that was already overfull of food. I was congested - only one nostril was working. I have pretty much quit caffeine again though. My belly gets healthier and I can tolerate a little, until then my belly can’t anymore. Repeat. I’m tired of that game and will try not to repeat it again. Alcohol has never been my drug of choice - it causes loss of balance and makes dancing more difficult.
What I did do was buy a ~ $25 nightguard with self fitting silicon but I still need to do the hot water, self fitting, so it wasn’t ready for me to use that night and I can’t tell you if it is better or worse than the circa 1985 or 2018 bitesplints.
Dental Self care strategies I do use occasionally
Activated charcoal: chew a tablet of activated charcoal and swish it for a while. Teeth are left with a just polished feeling. On reading more about it - I would not recommend brushing with a toothpaste containing it. Swishing is not as abrasive as brushing with a grit. Reports of too much surface damage with the charcoal toothpastes exist (different post).
Swishing with coconut oil (Coconut Oil Pulling - search term for more info) or black seed oil is healing to the gumlines.
Adequate vitamin C is essential for gum health and reduced bleeding with flossing.
As a last resort, essential clove oil is numbing to a painful spot on the gumline or tooth and also healing. It is numbing to the whole mouth so using a Q tip to apply only a little to the sore area and then trying not to move your tongue for a while is helpful.
Essential Tea Tree oil is also healing and a little numbing, but more tolerable than the clove oil. I brush my teeth with a few drops of tea tree oil occasionally and it helps remove coffee like staining.
Flossing is a good idea, I just hate it because my teeth are so crooked and tight together. Not nice people make fun of my teeth and that informs me that they are not nice people. Win/Win.
Stress, formaldehyde, smoking, and pain hypersensitivity in teeth or other body parts. (Substack) July 20, 2023.
microRNA, elevated homocysteine and is there a role for excess Retinoic Acid?
Yes, there may be. However simply having a high fat or high saturated fat diet may be factors, or low intakes of choline, methyl folate and methyl B12. Lack of riboflavin might be a factor also. (Substack) Dec. 4, 2022
Related excerpt from a post based on my pomegranate paper:
Hyperhomocysteinemia can cause protein translational modification (PTM) with a metabolite of homocysteine. The PTM is called N-Homocysteinylation. (Sharma, Kumar, Singh, 2014) PTM of proteins is associated with increased pain sensitivity, myelin degeneration, and autoimmune antibodies being created against the protein. (various references)
DNA methylation is connected to homocysteine metabolism due to the SAM and SAH that is produced. In hyper-homocysteinemia methylation capacity drops as SAH accumulates and causes a decreased SAM/SAH ratio. More than 18 weeks of a methyl-deficient diet can cause irreversible hypomethylations of DNA. (Koklesova, et al., 2021)
microRNA, elevated homocysteine and is there a role for excess Retinoic Acid? (Substack) Dec. 4, 2022
There is more to my no good, bad horrible day story, but I will break it up into two parts as the other part is more about eating than tooth care, or reading and recognizing kindness.
Hat-tip to great children’s book authors: “Judith Viorst is the author of the beloved Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” (Amazon).
Spoiler alert - part two is about a favorite children’s book of mine - a gift from my mother at age 10, much loved, much read. I reread it while up too late. It was still magical and worth it.
Disclaimer: This information is being provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of Fair Use and is not intended to provide individual health care guidance.
(Sun, et al, 2013) Andy Sun, Hung-Pin Lin, Yi-Ping Wang, Hsin-Ming Chen, Shih-Jung Cheng, Chun-Pin Chiang, Significant reduction of serum homocysteine level and oral symptoms after different vitamin-supplement treatments in patients with burning mouth syndrome, J Oral Pathol Med (2013) 42: 474−479, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jop.12043