Teeth grinding, also referred to as bruxism, happens when you clench or grind your teeth together. Our teeth actually aren’t meant to touch together, making teeth grinding very damaging to your smile, especially if it occurs frequently over time.
Bruxism can be caused by stress, an improper bite, or even a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea. What happens if you continue to grind your teeth without seeking treatment? Here are some of the long-term impacts of this damaging condition.
Grinding your teeth has the potential to cause tension headaches and chronic migraines . Your teeth can create immense force for chewing, but that same force isn’t meant to be placed on your other teeth! By clenching or grinding your teeth, you can accumulate muscle tension that can cause headaches, neck pain, and even shoulder or upper back discomfort.
The stress placed on teeth during teeth grinding can cause gum tissue to become inflamed. Gum tissue can even begin to pull away from the teeth, resulting in exposed roots and tooth sensitivity. Gum recession is also a sign of gum disease, so don’t hesitate to visit your dentist if you notice your teeth look longer or are more sensitive.
Repeated instances of clenching or grinding can eventually wear down your teeth. Your teeth may be more sensitive or look shorter than they used to. Teeth may also have a flattened or unnaturally even appearance when they’ve been affected by teeth grinding .
Your teeth can’t grow back, so once they appear shorter, you’ll need to consult with your dentist to determine what type of cosmetic treatments are available to restore your smile.
Bruxism can also cause teeth to chip, fracture, or break. Teeth that accumulate chips will become uneven in appearance, while fractures that are deeper can cause the need for root canal therapy. Teeth can even become so impacted that they can break off in places, causing the need for restorative treatments to repair your smile.
One of the most devastating consequences of teeth grinding over the long-term is loose teeth, which can ultimately lead to tooth loss . When teeth are repeatedly impacted by bruxism, their structure can weaken and cause the ligaments that hold them in the skull to weaken as well. Your may feel as though your teeth fit together differently, or your teeth may be visibly loose. Without treatment at this point, your teeth could eventually fall out or need to be extracted.
Bruxism isn’t something to be ignored. If you wake up with headaches or an aching jaw or teeth, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with your dentist. Your dentist can tell whether or not you grind your teeth and work with you to design a treatment plan that works for you before your smile suffers the consequences!