Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, happens when teeth clench and grind. Its occurrence is most common during sleep, but many people have also noted it during the daytime.
Teeth grinding puts extreme stress on teeth, gums, and the jaws and can contribute to both dental and health problems. In this blog from Dr. Nicole Van, bruxism is discussed as a contributor to five common health issues.
Bruxism can cause teeth pain and discomfort. The stress on teeth puts strain on the ligaments and support structures of teeth. Toothaches, jaw pain, and earaches may present as mild or severe and can impact daily function and routines.
Teeth grinding puts abnormal stress on facial and jaw muscles, ligaments, and joints. The chronic stresses over time will intensify the damage and may eventually lead to osteoarthritis of the joint that connects the jawbone to the skull, known as the TMJ (temporomandibular joint). The diagnosis of TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder) may then be confirmed and lead to a necessity of long-term therapies.
Excessive wear and thinning of the enamel and the shortened appearance of teeth will be more apparent. The teeth become more susceptible to decay and fracture as a result of losing the protective enamel. Many patients report experiencing more sensitivity to foods and drinks as cracks form in their teeth and fillings. Additionally, there is a noticeable change of how the teeth are aligned or fit together.
After many years, the cumulative impact of teeth grinding will be noticeable in the appearance of smiles for many individuals, leading to a change in facial esthetics as the muscles of the face also lose the supportive framework.
Without preventative care, more complex restorative dentistry may be necessary to reverse the the damage from bruxism.
Teeth grinding can also cause the loss of gum tissue that is adjacent to the teeth. As the gums recede, the loss of this tissue is irreversible as it will not regenerate. Patients report experiencing teeth sensitivity as one of the first symptoms. The loss of the foundational bone around teeth will follow the loss of gum tissue and eventually lead to periodontal disease, needing more specialized periodontal treatment.
The stress and pressure of clenching and grinding will impact all the muscles of the head and neck regions, commonly leading to headaches and migraines and impacting daily life and function.
If you think you have symptoms or think you may be grinding/clenching your teeth, Dr. Van and our team are here to help. There are many treatment options that we offer for the symptoms of bruxism and TMD. Contact us online or give us a call at (703) 556-0091 to schedule a consultation, and get the help you need to protect or restore your smile in McLean.