Long Term Damage Caused by Teeth Grinding
According to the Mayo Clinic, up to one third (33%) of children grind their teeth. But teeth grinding, also known as Bruxism, isn’t just a problem for kids.
Throughout our lives, we clench our jaws and grind our teeth as a (largely) involuntary reaction to stress, anxiety, or fear. This grinding can happen both when awake as well as during sleep.
If left untreated, over time, teeth grinding can cause some serious long-term problems for your jaw and teeth, requiring remedial or preventative treatment.
The Alarming Long-Term Effects of Teeth Grinding
It seems like a simple thing. Most of the time you have no clue you’re even doing it (especially when sleeping). Perhaps you’re frustrated over work, or overly anxious about a relationship. No matter the underlying cause, long-term teeth grinding can end up causing you a major headache (both literally and figuratively).
The Negative Impact of Bruxism on Your Teeth
Bruxism is one of the most tooth-damaging involuntary habits you can have. Your upper and lower teeth are only meant to touch when either speaking or when chewing. Any other regular contact, clenching or sliding of the teeth over each other can result in excessive wear over time.
Common Consequences Include:
- Worn down and flattened teeth
- Misshapen teeth
- Loose fillings
- Worn down enamel
All of which makes the teeth susceptible to cavities, bacterial growth, flaking, cracking, breaks and nerve damage.
Frequent grinding unnaturally wears down the protective layers of the teeth, aging them prematurely and revealing the soft tissues below the surface. This can lead to an increased risk of bacterial infection, but also further exposes the underlying nerves by reducing the protective and insulative layers once covering them.
With the enamel reduced or removed, your teeth may become hypersensitive to hot and cold foods and drinks, making it difficult to enjoy your favorite dishes due to sensitivity or pain.
The Negative Impact of Bruxism on Your Jaw and Gums
Gum Damage and Inflammation
The pressure and motion of grinding your teeth puts additional pressure on your gums and their associated tissues. This can cause inflammation, invite bacterial growth, and lead to receding gumlines or gum disease.
Damaged Gums and Loose Teeth
Gums are, in part, responsible for providing an additional anchoring of your tooth in place. Over time, damage to the gums or gum health as a result of bruxism can result in loose teeth. Loose teeth are more susceptible to forming pockets around the base where bacteria can cause infection and inflammation, leading to gum disease and tooth loss.
Tooth grinding can put up to 250lbs of force per sq. inch on your jaw, resulting in excessive stress and overuse of the musculature of the jaw. This commonly leads to a stiff and sore jaw, and discomfort when chewing or talking. Another common side effect of this is regular headaches.
Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)
Your temporomandibular joint connects your skull to your jawbone, acting similar to a sliding hinge. Each side of your jaw has one TMJ. Although TMJ disorders have several causes, teeth grinding ranks among the most common contributors, leading to chronic pain, headaches, and muscle tension in your jaw, face and neck. In severe cases, individuals may not be able to open their mouth all the way, and may experience severe pain including migraines. If caught early, less invasive treatments and preventative measures can be taken, but in some cases, surgical intervention is necessary.
Do you grind or clench your teeth?
The Signs and Symptoms of Bruxism:
- Regular tension or soreness of your jaw
- Pain or discomfort around your temporomandibular joints
- Pain or discomfort when chewing
- Pain in and around your ear(s)
- Aching pain in your facial muscles
- Locking of your jaw
- Inability to fully open or close your jaw
- Tooth sensitivity
- Visible flattening of the teeth
Risk Factors of Bruxism:
- Previous jaw injury
- Excessive stress or anxiety
- Connective tissue disorders
Do You Suspect You Might Be Grinding Your Teeth?
Fact is, most of us grind out teeth now and then, but when teeth grinding becomes a frequent occurrence (especially during sleep), it can become a serious issue.
Bruxism can impact your health and quality of life in several ways. Although short term symptoms may not reach a level more than annoying or uncomfortable, over time these symptoms can lead to more serious conditions requiring medical intervention.
The good news is that early intervention is simple, safe, affordable and effective, keeping serious issues at bay and helping keep your pearly whites in peak condition.
If you or a loved one have concerns about teeth grinding, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our caring and compassionate team of leading dental professionals can get you the help you need. One call is all it takes to schedule an appointment to discuss the treatment you need to live your best life.
Recommended Foods to Eat or Avoid After Your Dental Implant ProcedureNobody likes ‘rules’, but after your dental implant procedure, your dentist will give you some anyway. That’s the bad news. The good news is that following these rules isn’t just easy, it’ll help you...
What Is the All-on-4 Dental Implant Method? Do you have missing, broken, or decaying teeth? You’re not alone. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), over 5 million dental implant procedures are completed each year. Many of these using the All-on-4...
Most Common Questions About Dental Implants You brush your teeth regularly, you even floss, and yet, your pearly whites have turned against you! Don’t worry though, you’re not alone. Each year millions of Americans find themselves in your shoes, regardless of...
Discover Your Dental Implant Options
Take The 60-Second Quiz To Find Out If Dental Implants Are Right For You