Teeth grinding and clenching, also known as bruxism, can significantly impact your smile and oral health. This unconscious habit often occurs during sleep or times of stress and can lead to various dental issues.
Although it’s normal to grind your teeth and clench your jaw occasionally, making a habit out of bruxism can cause serious damage to your smile. Here are some impacts of teeth grinding and clenching and why you shouldn’t let these habits go unchecked!
Abnormal Tooth Wear
Bruxism can cause excessive wear and tear on the surfaces of your teeth used for biting and chewing food. Over time, the grinding and clenching motion can result in flattened teeth with unusual contours .
These shortened or oddly shaped teeth can affect the appearance of your smile and your ability to bite and chew. People with shortened or flattened teeth due to bruxism may require dental procedures such as bonding, veneers, or dental crowns to restore the appearance and function of the teeth.
Grinding and clenching can wear down the protective enamel layer on your teeth, exposing the sensitive dentin layer. With tooth enamel worn away, temperatures can more easily reach the sensitive nerve tissue inside the teeth, causing painful sensitivity.
Damaged tooth enamel and exposed dentin can increase tooth sensitivity, making consuming hot, cold, or sweet foods and beverages uncomfortable or painful.
Chipped or Cracked Teeth
Pressure and grinding from bruxism can cause teeth to weaken and chip or crack. Research shows that fractured teeth are more common in bruxers than in people who don’t grind their teeth .
The damaged teeth can not only affect the appearance of your smile but can also cause pain and sensitivity. If left untreated, chipped or cracked teeth can worsen with additional pressure from biting, chewing, and teeth grinding over time, potentially leading to a tooth infection.
The excessive forces produced during teeth grinding and clenching can also impact the gum tissue. Over time, bruxism can contribute to gum inflammation and recession, where the gum tissue pulls away from the teeth, exposing the tooth roots.
Gum recession can cause teeth to look longer and can also contribute to tooth sensitivity. If you have existing gum disease or gingivitis, bruxism may also cause the condition to worsen.
Jaw Pain or TMJ Symptoms
Teeth grinding and clenching can cause jaw pain and TMJ (temporomandibular joint) symptoms .
The pressure exerted while clenching and grinding teeth can strain the jaw muscles, leading to chronic pain or soreness. You may also feel tenderness in your jaw joints (the temporomandibular joints) on either side of the head in front of each ear.
Over time, chronic grinding and clenching can damage the TMJ joints, which can cause pain when chewing, speaking, or otherwise moving your jaw.
Loose Teeth and Tooth Loss
Bruxism subjects your teeth to excessive pressure and force. When you grind or clench your teeth, the pressure can lead to cracks in the teeth, which can cause teeth to become weaker and more vulnerable to damage.
In addition, teeth grinding and clenching also impact the connective tissue that helps hold your teeth in place. With immense pressure, this tissue can become inflamed and damaged, eventually leading to loose teeth.
Unaddressed, chronic, or severe bruxism can lead to tooth loss in susceptible individuals, especially those who already have damaged teeth or gums.
Do You Grind Your Teeth?
If you grind your teeth and notice any of the above signs or symptoms, it’s time to visit your dentist. Your oral healthcare professional can help you put a treatment plan in place to reduce your bruxism, protect your teeth, and keep your smile healthy!