For many of our patients we recommend an occlusal guard, also known as a night guard. We would like to take this time to review why a night guard may be recommended for you by your doctor.
We would like to use a comparison help you better understand your teeth. Let’s compare your teeth to tires. When you drive your car you understand that your car has to be properly aligned. When your car, is no longer in the proper alignment, you will start to have wear of the tires over time. That wear will cause one tire to have more pressure on it than another. Meaning, one tire will do more of the work than the overall job that all four tires should be sharing. Now, relate the tires on your car to the teeth in your mouth.
You need your teeth for everyday purposes: smiling, talking, chewing your food which helps with digestion, and tearing open chip bags (just kidding, we don’t recommend that). Over a period of time your teeth will start to shift and can develop wear patterns. These patterns can be caused by clenching or grinding your teeth. At the beginning of a wear pattern, it may seem like there is nothing wrong. But, just as your tire starts to take on more pressure than it should; your affected teeth start to take on more pressure than all of the other teeth combined together as one force. Over a period of time you will start to lose enamel, which will then expose the dentin of your teeth. You will start to have abfractions (v-shaped notches,) toward the gum line and your teeth will start to develop sensitivity which can lead to gum recession as well.
What causes a person to clench and grind their teeth? Here are some key factors that will result in wear patterns: improper alignment of teeth, stress which may cause clenching, and grinding.
Now that we have taken the time to discover how our daily habits like clenching and grinding can affect the overall condition of our teeth, you now understand the reasoning behind why your doctor may recommend a night guard. Just like you protect your car by having the tires rotated, you have to have a device that helps keep your teeth protected and aligned.