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It's much more effective to have a perfect occlusion in hard plastic fitted." This corrects your bite.Indeed, says Roy Higson, chief executive of the British Society of Occlusal Studies, a guard can sometimes make the problem worse."A soft mouthguard doesn't correct malocclusion because it doesn't fit properly and your teeth can grind away at it. Despite visiting the dentist with religious regularity, since my twenties I've had problems with teeth fracturing, fillings failing and painful sensitivity. Alcohol, caffeine, smoking and recreational drugs can make it worse, because you are much more 'heightened' when you go to bed."When you grind, you exert a pressure 20 to 30 times that of a normal bite. It's an unconscious reflex, caused by either malocclusion, which is when your teeth don't fit together properly when you close your mouth, or stress or a combination of both. You may not be aware of it, but the signs are there.In my case, the chewy texture of my specially moulded guard seems to encourage me to chomp away even more. "It's not very sexy, but it may save your teeth."Or what's left of them.
Munching on a piece of toast one morning two years ago, my teeth hit a hard object that was clearly not a wholegrain. Today my mouth is a jigsaw of porcelain, silver amalgam, bridges and gaps – a picture of 40 years of British dentistry, good and bad. My new dentist, whom I'd seen only once before for a check-up, took X-rays, poked around a bit and announced that I needed root-canal treatment. At worst, bruxism can permanently damage the jawbone and inflict intense headaches similar to migraine, or severe neck and shoulder pain.After a panicked investigation with my tongue, I found a jagged shard of tooth. The tooth had, he said, cracked deep below the gumline. More commonly, the result is an aching jaw, sensitivity – because teeth can be eroded, exposing the dentine that contains nerve endings – receding gums, fracturing or even loosening of teeth. The cheap, standard-issue soft plastic mouthguard usually doesn't prevent grinding, although it does prevent damage to your teeth.