Dentistry of Anxiety: Ode to Mandibular

Nice to meet you, I’m a clencher.

A hold on tight, nothin’-gettin’-by-this-enamel-armada type of clencher.

At night, I’m probably a bruxist, as in one who grinds their teeth at night while asleep.

How do I know?

I can’t eat a hot dog without my jaw cracking with a sound that scares birds from the tree outside my dining room.

The culprit?

O, Anxiety, I crown thee with blossoms today.  Queen of the Temporomandibular Joint, Queen of the May.

Instead of having Botox or collagen injections for my thinning lips and drooping eyelids, I’m having teeth molds done in order to have a “custom” appliance made for my mouth.

When the appliance came back from the lab it was the size of my thumb nail and fit over the bottom center teeth.  It was a perfect fit except it made my jaw pain worse.

I think I know something about Bernie Madoff’s victims that has yet to be revealed.  I watched two on The Charlie Rose show the other night and the evidence was clear.

Those with pre-existing anxiety disorders and definitely those who developed them in ’08 when the stock market and world appeared to be collapsing, have all developed jaw tics and terrors we’ve not yet fully understood.

The dentist may call it TMJ, but to a Madoff victim finding out that their life savings had gone up in Ponzi smoke?  This requires another diagnosis and treatment.

I know that even without losing my entire nest egg to the market of ’08 and whatever we are calling the market of ’09, the turmoil has taken a toll.  I am a changed girl.  There’s no appliance to cushion those changes.

My dentist, who is of retirement age, said in all his life practicing as a dentist, he’s never had to call the lab and say, “It’s not working” as he just did for me.

The lab was nice and didn’t charge him and he was nice and didn’t charge me.  So, the 500 dollars I would have had to spend for it, I am putting back under the mattress, photographing my teeth molds, and calling a musician.

Why a musician?

Now that the gloved one has passed on, the airwaves are begging for a new direction.

I think our fortunes, however humble, could be made once again if someone would write a John Cage type musical score of the new jaw sounds anxiety has created in the past year.

We could call it, “Ode to Mandibular”.

I feel my jaw relaxing just thinking about it.

©Pat Coakley 2009

PHOTOGRAPHY CANNOT BE USED WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION

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16 comments on “Dentistry of Anxiety: Ode to Mandibular”

  1. The sad thing is, Bernie himself has probably escaped the jaw tics and anxiety. Hopefully that discrepancy will be remedied soon.

    • You know, dragonmage06, I thought that very thing! Sociopaths I am pretty sure don’t have TMJ! But, love your last line…hopefully that discrepancy will be remedied soon.

  2. I’m a grinder. Occasionally I notice myself doing it in a sort of half-awake state. Very strange. Feels like my teeth will shatter . . .

    • If you get some sort of appliance now, Chris, when you are young, maybe you can avoid permanent damage? Don’t let it go like I did.

  3. Like all con-men, Madhoff relied on people’s greed. Everyone with any sense knows that they should diversify their investments between high risk and low risk, but, oh no! Heavens forbid that Madhoff’s marks would think that high return means high risk and that the highest return would equal the highest risk. In the rush to make money for nothing, some people put everything they had into the hands of a dirt bag without thinking about the fact that no one else was offering the same return.

    Like the old saying goes, “anything that looks to be too good to be true, probably is”.

    Once again, the stupidity (gullibility is too kind a word) of some people astounds me.

    One thing the people who were ripped off can take comfort from, is that Madhoff will have to go into protective custody because the all the guys inside (like the rest of us, except, it would seem, those incompetents in the SEC) know he still has a huge bundle stashed away and for sure they will want it. Madhoff’s fellow inmates won’t bother with guile to get at his ill gotten gains.

    • “Everyone with sense”….problem is that some folks really don’t have that financial sense, Razz, and then they rely on others who they perceive who do…like neighbors in the financial industry or wealthy individuals who appear to “have it all” and do not appear to be the type of folks who would risk their life savings. So, I’m suggesting you might want to cut these victims some slack here…yes, greed accounts for a layer of all our behavior..if not money, something else we hunger for.. but it’s right next to the self preservation layer in some cases and his victims were not all hedge fund managers and high lifers.

      To me, the SEC deserves the full measure of your contempt and labels of “stupidity”. One guy laid it all out for them 10 years ago…laid it out…this is a ponzi scheme. this is how he’s doing it. Go check it out.

      You see how that worked out. They are complicit in this scheme in my opinion. Anyway, thoughts of him in jail dance like sugar plums….

  4. you are so unbelievably way cool as the saying goes or hot or whatever,
    the John Cagelike ‘Ode to Mandibular’ is too brilliant, shines like that smile of yours, relax, dont wear it down! ha ha

    • I keep looking at these teeth molds, Tipota. I’ve got them on my dining room table right now!! I think there is more to come!

  5. Ah Pat… how I can relate! Apparently, I have broken every single tooth I have in the back from grinding due to the stress. I am going to the dentist on Thursday to start fixing the problem… yay. Now, if the bill doesn’t stress me out, I don’t know what will!

  6. Amber, how is he going to fix it? I’m serious. I want to know!

  7. These teeth gave me a real shock when they came up on the screen! What is she doing now!? i had a friend who ground his teeth so bad the screeching from the grinding would wake you up at night. Scary sound. By the time he died in his fifties, they were worn down to nubbins! But relax. It wasn’t the teeth that killed him.
    On Madoff…are things really getting worse (as it seems), or have there always been swindlers like this…with the numbers just bigger now?

    • I was happy to post this image after the previous post. I like that sometimes I don’t even know what to expect! Ask Razz whether greed has evolved over the years! He’s into evolution on this one.

  8. Pat

    Sorry, no slack to be cut by me today. I see the whole thing as Darwinism in action.

    On the other hand, “the SEC deserves the full measure of your contempt and labels of “stupidity”. I’d use other words in regards to the SEC.

    Actually I don’t think the SEC were stupid in the classic sense. The fact that Harry Markopolos handed the SEC all the evidence that they needed on a plate and they didn’t do anything, smells of corruption to me.

    I think that the people in the SEC who had been presented with Markopolos’s evidence but somehow thought that they could “ignore it”, should be thoroughly investigated. I suspect that the SEC is peopled with the human equivalent of “wolves minding sheep”.

    • No slack at all? Not just the teeniest, tiniest drop of human kindness toward those fellow beings with limitations (of character, of needs, of mind or body?) Well, Ok. Are you this tough on yourself as well? Probably, so. You are probably right about the SEC, though.

  9. Pat

    Nope. There are plenty of other people around the world who are far worse off ( I just have to think about those poor sods in the refugee camps in Dafur region in Sudan waiting for the next attack by the Janjaweed) and I reserve my empathy for them.

    “Are you this tough on yourself as well?”

    More so. I’m still beating myself up about “all the dumb things” that I’ve done in my life over the years. I’ve been cheated out of money when I should’ve known better and I only blame myself. I’ve gotten hurt when I’ve put myself in danger and I only blame myself. I’ve been stupid and I’ve been punished for it.

    Gigantic fraud has happened several times in the past and the wilfully ignorant keep walking into the meat grinder over and over again, like the lemmings that they are.

    The information and truth is out there, all one has to do is take the time and look for it. Alas some people will still ignore the truth, like the Bush supporters.

    As Dorothy Parker once said, “You can lead a whore to culture, but you can’t make her think”.

    “Ask Razz whether greed has evolved over the years! He’s into evolution on this one”

    I don’t think that we’ve evolved that much in the last couple of hundred years in this matter. You’d think that the French “Mississippi Bubble” back in the early 18th century would’ve served as a gigantic warning sign, well into the future.

    But nooooo!

    Cashed up dullards still think that they can plonk their money into get-rich-quick schemes without educating themselves about the risks and reap easy money. I don’t think greed has grown, it’s only the numbers that have gotten bigger and I’d say that’s more a sign of inflation. What saddens and maddens me, is that we are allegedly better informed and educated.

    Truth be known, money is hard to come by and that’s why it’s worth something.

  10. Razz, One more try…not to change your opinion…but just to challenge it a bit more…You bring layers of complexity to many aspects of commentary here in the past year–in art, in philosophy, in politics…. but in certain situations, like this one, I see an impatience with human frailty unless it’s on a huge, tragic level as in the Sudan situation.

    No wonder you are still beating yourself up about “all the dumb things” you’ve done, money lost or been manipulated out of..the danger you’ve put yourself in…and your conclusion, “I’ve been stupid”. “I blame myself.”

    If a situation has to be so clear cut good guy, bad guy, as in the Sudan or other horrific human situations throughout the world to be granted some of your finite finite amount of compassion, then I can see why your own situation won’t ever qualify and you’ll be stuck in this finger-pointing to the man in the mirror indefinitely.

    It’s just a curious simplicity you bring to this topic when so many others are variegated with many other perspectives.

    I’ll be quiet now..but, honestly, forget about the Madoff victims in this discussion, how’s that finger pointing at yourself, “more so” fingerpointing you say, working for you after all these years?

    My guess is these feelings have not undergone any of Darwinian evolution over the years and they are thought-bricks, impenetrable and unyielding and a default position when you consider this arc of your life.

    I guess I’d just like to respectfully suggest you appear to have been short changing yourself from some of that finite store of compassion you save up for those poor bastards who are victims of having been born in the wrong zip codes rather than victims of their own behavior.

    If this is the key to your store of compassion, not many of us are going to see that warm, fuzzy side, and least of all, you.

    OK. Now, quite apropos for this post, I’m grinding my teeth!! Just thoughts while I’m watching a news program about this horse’s ass Governor in South Carolina who is calling his mistress his “soul mate”. Now, this guy? He deserves the full Buffnik electric chair.


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