Person with a pained face clutching their reddened, glowing jaw with a nighttime background, showing the pain and difficulty of teeth-grinding in sleep.

The Nightly Grind

Like many, restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a comorbidity of other conditions, 1 of those being hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS). I have always wondered: when does 1+1=3? If you read the conditions that can accompany hypermobility, a considerable amount are also shared by fibromyalgia, which is my other comorbidity.

My RLS and comorbidities have wreaked havoc on my teeth

Recently I have been fighting a nightly battle. This is the reason I mention hEDS, alongside my RLS, as 1 condition is rubbing off on the other. With hEDS you can struggle with gum disease; no matter how many disclosing tablets, special toothbrushes, and mouthwashes I tried, I could never get on top of it.

The battle commenced when I was 13 years old. The war was lost, resulting in all my teeth being removed when I was 36 years old.

Grinding my teeth at night destroyed my dentures

The struggle started when I was able to receive implant-retained dentures from a dental hospital in London. Implant-retained dentures are screwed into your jaw, supposedly to give a superior bite to allow you to resume normal eating sooner. Except, when you suffer from both RLS and hEDS, that is not the way the book is written.

The medication my G.P. prescribed me for my RLS seems to allow me to sleep deeply. The plus side of this is that I get to sleep, and stay asleep, with no RLS symptoms. The minus side is, as I used to grind my teeth pretty profusely before medication. I grind them with fervor now — so much so that I have broken at least 6 top plates and 2 bottoms, leaving my dental professional shouting and swearing at me.

My self-esteem disappeared, keeping me from leaving the house

My doctor made me a bite guard that I destroyed in a week by basically chewing it up! RLS has obliterated my mouth by the process of extraction. Weak gums caused by periodontal disease vs ferocious grinding = no teeth.

No teeth can mean a sunken face as time goes on, then self-esteem disappears out the window. Once that happens you tend to leave the house less, meaning RLS has won the final skirmish by ensuring you never leave the house.

My RLS symptoms increase with the pain in my mouth

Recently I have just broken another top set; this time it has left me at the mercy of my RLS. I am unable to sleep due to the pain in my mouth from the shards of broken acrylic resin, which then sends my legs jiggling and wiggling like they're going out of fashion!

Add in that I cannot sleep during the day, this means I am on a 24/7 nightmare highway.

New dog, same 'grind,' but RLS doesn't define me

We recently adopted a dog. The fun starts while trying to acclimatize him to my twitchy legs! From moving around the bed and spending some quality time with him, to trying to work out if I'm buying the correct food, when did there turn out to be so many options?

RLS be damned, I will not be told how to hold my body for a photo, especially when I’m lucky if it’s staying still at all.

Do you struggle with self-esteem as a result of your RLS symptoms? Have you had a difficult RLS journey with teeth-grinding and oral health problems like Nikki? How severe is your "nightly grind," and how do you manage it? Share with us in the comments below.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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