Bruxism is a condition in which you grind your teeth, whether knowingly or unknowingly. For
most people, bruxism happens during sleep and they’re not even aware that they have this
For others, bruxism happens during times of stress while awake, and for others still, they may
grind their teeth while both awake and asleep.
Bruxism is hugely damaging to both your teeth and your gums, especially over a long period of
time. These are the potential long term impacts of bruxism.
Dentists can tell whether or not you grind your teeth during your checkup. For patients who
have suffered from bruxism for years, the teeth will actually flatten and have an even, square
appearance. The teeth actually wear themselves down and so all the teeth become shorter. The
effect will become increasingly noticeable if bruxism goes treated.
Grinding your teeth can also damage dental restorations such as crowns or fillings, causing
them to prematurely fail and require replacement .
Bruxism can also cause chips and fractures due to the immense pressure placed on teeth. You
may notice your teeth have visible cracks in them or even that they’ve sustained chips that you
don’t remember happening.
The jaw is able to move thanks to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which attaches your
lower jaw to your skull.
Bruxism can place stress on the TMJ, leading to jaw dysfunction that can cause chronic pain.
Symptoms of a problem with your TMJ include unexplained headaches, muscle tension in your
face or neck, pain when chewing or speaking, or an inability to open your mouth all the way.
Since TMJ dysfunction can be caused by bruxism and also make bruxism more likely, working
with your professional dentist can help you understand the root cause of your TMJ pain.
Bruxism wears down teeth prematurely, which means the shiny protective layer over your
teeth—we know it as tooth enamel—can get worn away over time.
Once your tooth enamel is gone, there’s no way to replace it. Instead, the softer tissue
underneath your enamel—called dentin—is exposed. Dentin is not only more yellow in color,
but it also allows harmful bacteria into your tooth to cause cavities.
When enamel is no longer there to protect your teeth, hot and cold temperatures can travel to
the root of your tooth, making eating ice cream or drinking hot tea uncomfortable at best and
painful at worst.
Grinding your teeth also places stress on your gums and the connective tissue which help to
hold your teeth in place, therefore leading to periodontal damage .
When connective tissue that helps anchor teeth is damaged, it can lead to loose teeth. If you
grind your teeth, your gum tissue may become inflamed and look red or irritated, especially
over a long period of time.
If you wake up with headaches and an aching jaw, you could be grinding your teeth while
asleep and not realize it. A simple dental exam can reveal whether or not you’re prematurely
aging your teeth through bruxism. There is treatment for this damaging dental condition, so
don’t wait to seek help—your teeth could be at stake!