I was told I need a “night guard” but I don’t think I grind my teeth.

Most people will clench or grind their teeth while they are asleep and never know. While you are awake, you may be clenching or grinding, but because you are conscious, the forces you do that with are not destructive. While asleep, the forces are thought to be in the order of 10x as much force as when you are awake. Wearing an occlusal guard can help protect your mouth while this is occurring. Call it a night guard, grinding guard, occlusal guard, clenching guard or mouthpiece but they are all very similar. All should have a hard plastic biting surface. Some will a soft inside portion (area that actually sits on the teeth) and some will have the same hard plastic that is on the outside.

“So even if I am clenching or grinding, so what?” The obvious damage of grinding is that you will wear down the edges of the teeth which shortens the teeth and also makes a very aged appearance. Not only do your teeth suffer and have an increased risk of fracture, but you will also start developing notches around the necks of the teeth near the gumline which can lead to recession. As a periodontist, this keeps me in business, so grind away! But really, why not make a small investment and protect the teeth, gums and bone before it starts to lead to costly repairs, possible surgery, and an aged smile.

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