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Tooth Clenching and Grinding: 6 Long-Term Effects

Nov 16, 2018 | Uncategorized

Tooth clenching and grinding can wreak havoc on your teeth. Our upper and lower teeth should slide together and touch each other only when chewing food or speaking. Abnormal clenching and grinding can cause tooth wear and severe jaw problems.

The reality is that most people clench their teeth from time to time. For example, when we are angry or anxious or when our sleep is being disturbed. Tooth clenching can occur in both men and women either during the day or at night. Bruxism, or tooth grinding, while staying awake is particularly common during times of high concentration, anger or stress. On the other hand, some of us only grind our teeth during sleep. Grinding often leads to the jaw muscles being overworked and causes jaw aches and headaches.

Negative effects of tooth clenching and grinding

1. The front teeth are worn out, flat and even

The smiles of people who normally grind and clench their teeth usually develop a distinctive look. Their teeth are worn flat as if they had been smoothed using a file.

2. Broken microcracks and fillings that may eventually cause nerve damage

The average human being experiences an enamel loss of 0.3 millimeters every 10 years due to natural wear and tear. The rapid loss of enamel, which protects and strengthens teeth, leaves the person open to problems such as flaking and cracking of teeth. This leads to damaged dental restorations like crowns. If it is left untreated, it can lead to severe nerve damage over time.

3. Worn down teeth leads to sensitivity to both cold and heat

Excessive tooth wear resulting from grinding can damage teeth enamel and leave the dentin exposed.  Exposed dentin can cause sensitivity issues to both cold and heat.

4. Gum recession, caused by stress on the gum line

Tooth grinding is one of the main causes of gum recession for several reasons. When you grind your teeth, soft tissue of the gums are also affected and form pockets. Bacteria accumulates in these pockets which leads to issues such as periodontitis and gum recession.

5. Loose teeth caused by the combined effect of bruxism and damaged teeth

The grinding of teeth can be so dangerous that it can detach teeth from the jaw. In addition to the weakening of the tooth itself, this can cause some other dental issues, including the tooth falling out from its socket.

6. A headache and painful jaws due to excessive muscle fatigue

Grinding in your sleep can last 40 minutes per hour and produce up to 250 pounds of force per square inch. That is enough force to crack a nut. Besides all the other dental troubles caused by bruxism, the excessive use of jaw muscles could lead to discomfort, pain and headaches.

Do you grind or clench your teeth?

Although the original causes of tooth clenching and grinding are not well known, its long-term effects are well understood. Untreated bruxism can lead to unusual bites, missing teeth and many other dental issues. Contact our office to see how treatment can restore your smile and prevent any further damage.