Clenching your teeth is actually part of a condition called bruxism, which is also referred to as teeth grinding. Clenching your teeth is extremely damaging to your teeth, gums, and your jaw. Many people clench their teeth while they sleep, when the force of your jaw will be much greater than it is when you’re chewing food. This is because your brain doesn’t have any control over this clenching and grinding while you’re asleep! Whether you clench your teeth occasionally or you do it nightly, you should be aware of the hazardous side effects of clenching your teeth!
Clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth can actually wear down the enamel of your teeth. Enamel is the hard, shiny, protective layer over your teeth. Enamel protects the softer tissues of your teeth as well as your tooth’s root. When enamel is worn away, cold or hot foods and drinks can cause pain because your tooth’s root may be exposed! Once your enamel is gone, there’s no way to replace it. Your dentist can tell during your regular checkups if you’re experiencing enamel loss. One of the most common symptoms of loss of enamel is sensitive teeth.
Headaches or Migraines
If you clench your teeth while you’re sleeping, your jaw is essentially exerting great force onto your teeth with no buffer. Experts estimate this amount to be three to ten times as much force as is exerted when chewing food. This is a huge amount of pressure on your teeth! This immense pressure can cause tension headaches, especially migraines.
If you suffer from headaches, especially in the morning, you could be clenching your teeth at night and not know it. Other symptoms of teeth clenching include jaw or facial pain, and your teeth may hurt as well. A custom nightly mouthguard can help protect your teeth from clenching and grinding at night, as they absorb the impact of your teeth clenching!
Chipped or Fractured Teeth
Teeth clenching can lead to chipped or fractured teeth! Chips are unsightly and often evident when you smile. To make matters worse, teeth that have lost enamel are much more susceptible to chips and even cavities. Fractured teeth are also more prone to cavities, and can cause bacteria to get to your tooth’s root. Chipped or fractured teeth may not seem like a big problem, but those cracks in your teeth can lead to bigger cracks and could end up costing you your smile. Teeth are not made to withstand teeth-on- teeth pressure contact, and over time, your teeth could sustain considerable damage from clenching!
Because of the impact that teeth clenching has on your gums and the connective tissue that holds your teeth in place, teeth clenching can cause loose teeth. Your gums can become inflamed when exposed to the pressure of teeth clenching and grinding, which can lead to damaged connective ligaments and tissue.
Over time, this will lead your teeth to become loose and they could eventually fall out. Although teeth clenching doesn’t necessarily cause periodontal disease, if you have periodontal disease, teeth clenching can make it worse!
Teeth clenching and grinding has more consequences than you think. This practice can damage your teeth and gums, and increases your risk for tooth damage and tooth loss. Talk to your dentist if you think you clench your teeth at night, and ask him or her about signs of teeth grinding during your next visit. There are steps you can take to stop bruxism!