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Bruxism or tooth grinding can occur during periods of extreme stress. This is an unconscious process that is controlled by the brain. If left untreated, this can cause large portions of the teeth to be worn down, resulting in shorter, flatter teeth, cracks in the teeth and an older appearance. Nightguards or occlusal guards can help control this process. They are hard plastic appliances fitted to the upper teeth and increase the level of the bite. This may act to confuse the programming of the brain, and ultimately result in stopping the grinding. In some cases the brain may adapt, and the grinding resumes, in which case the nightguard serves as a shock absorbing protective layer, preventing the teeth from wearing against each other.


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