Teeth grinding, or bruxism, may seem like a small bad habit, but it can lead to some big problems. Teeth grinding is not just an adult issue either. As many children can suffer from it, however, it does not typically develop until later on. It can have several negative effects on your oral health, overall well-being, and quality of life. Here are some of the common negative effects associated with teeth grinding:
Dental Damage: Prolonged teeth grinding can cause significant dental problems, including:
- Tooth Wear: Grinding can lead to the erosion of tooth enamel, resulting in shorter and thinner teeth.
- Cracked or Chipped Teeth: The excessive force can cause teeth to crack or chip, requiring dental restorations like crowns or veneers.
- Tooth Sensitivity: As enamel wears away, teeth can become more sensitive to temperature changes and certain foods and drinks.
- Tooth Mobility: Severe grinding may loosen teeth, increasing the risk of tooth loss.
- Gum Recession: Bruxism can lead to gum recession and expose the tooth roots, making teeth more vulnerable to decay and sensitivity.
Teeth grinding is not just a tooth issue. Here are some other ways it can effect you:
- Jaw and Facial Pain: Bruxism can lead to pain and discomfort in the jaw joints (temporomandibular joints or TMJ), facial muscles, and even the neck and shoulders. This discomfort can range from mild to severe.
- Headaches: Frequent teeth grinding can cause tension headaches due to the strain on the jaw and facial muscles.
- Sleep Disturbance: Nighttime teeth grinding can disrupt your own sleep as well as the sleep of your bed partner due to the loud grinding noises.
- Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD): Chronic bruxism can contribute to the development of temporomandibular joint disorders, causing pain and restricted jaw movement
- Muscle Fatigue: The constant grinding and clenching of the jaw muscles can lead to muscle fatigue, which can impact daily activities like speaking, chewing, and swallowing.
The biggest known cause of teeth grinding is stress. Whether you are a day time grinder, or grind your teeth while sleeping, it’s most often associated with mental health. Other known causes are abnormal bite (malocclusion), missing or crooked teeth, alcohol or drug use, and sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
It’s essential to address teeth grinding to prevent or mitigate these negative effects. Your dentist can provide guidance on treatment options, including the use of dental appliances like mouthguards or splints to protect your teeth. In some cases, addressing stress and anxiety through relaxation techniques or therapy may also help reduce bruxism.