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How Bruxism Affects Your Teeth

Grinding your teeth can do a lot more than keep you up at night. Teeth grinding—a condition called bruxism—causes a wide range of side effects, many of which affect your teeth. We put together this guide on the different ways bruxism can affect your teeth, gums, and jaw, to help you understand the importance of seeking treatment. 

What Is Bruxism?

Grinding or clenching your teeth is typically a subconscious habit, and it can even happen while you’re sleeping. In fact, most people with bruxism aren’t even aware that they are grinding their teeth until their dentist notices signs of tooth wear. 

The pressure from bruxism can cause symptoms like:

  • Toothaches
  • Earaches
  • Frequent headaches
  • Face, neck, and shoulder pain
  • Jaw pain and TMJ disorders
  • Difficulty staying asleep

How Does Bruxism Affect Your Teeth?

Over time, bruxism can have serious consequences for your teeth and the rest of your mouth. Here are some of the most serious side effects of grinding and clenching your teeth. 

Tooth Damage

Bruxism places a lot of pressure on your teeth, which can cause them to chip, crack, or fracture. Depending on the severity of the damage, broken teeth can expose the nerves inside and cause painful sensitivity or infections. The extra wear and tear can also damage your fillings or crowns, which will need immediate replacement to protect your teeth from decay. 

Mouth Pain

The constant pressure and friction from bruxism wears down the biting surfaces of your teeth. As your teeth flatten, they will no longer fit together properly when you bite down. This can lead to jaw pain from the change in your bite, as well as tooth pain due to enamel erosion. Worn down enamel makes your teeth more sensitive to temperature changes and more vulnerable to bacteria, because the nerves inside your teeth have less insulation. 

Tooth Loss

Grinding your teeth too much can cause them to shift and loosen, weakening your tooth roots. This can make your gums recede, which allows pockets to form between your teeth and gums that can trap bacteria and cause gum disease. The combination of weak roots and receding gums can eventually cause teeth to fall out.  

TMJ Disorders

Bruxism doesn’t affect your teeth alone. The grinding and clenching also puts extra stress on the joints that connect your jaw to your skull. This can lead to a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) that causes jaw pain, stiffness, clicking, and popping. Stress on the jaw can also cause toothaches, headaches, earaches, neck pain, and shoulder pain. 

How to Protect Your Teeth from Bruxism

Luckily, there are many ways you can protect your teeth from the damaging effects of bruxism. For instance, you can wear a custom or over-the-counter mouth guard while you sleep to prevent tooth wear. 

Since stress is a common trigger for teeth grinding, it can help to try yoga, meditation, or exercise to relieve stress, especially before bed. It’s also important to avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco before bed, which can all cause sleep bruxism. 

Teeth grinding can sometimes be a side effect of antidepressants, amphetamines, and other medications. You may need to speak with your doctor about adjusting your prescription so you can stop grinding your teeth

Gentle Dentist in Gilbert, Arizona

If you’ve been grinding or clenching your teeth, please don’t hesitate to contact Lifetime Family Dental. We can treat the damage caused by teeth grinding, and discuss the best ways to protect your teeth from the effects of bruxism in the future. Call us at 480-558-4331 today to schedule an appointment. 

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (2/2/2023). Photo by Edward Cisneros on Unsplash