We may have been grinding our teeth since we were little but never realized what damage it was doing to our pearly whites. Read on to understand how teeth grinding affects oral health.
Teeth Grinding or Bruxism
Teeth grinding is also known as Bruxism and involves people clenching and grinding their teeth unknowingly and may happen either in the day or at night. People experiencing anxiety or stress may often acquire this condition. Occasional grinding doesn’t do any harm, however, if it persists, the grinding may start to cause some pain and discomfort in your jaw. It can also further lead to oral health complications that can even give rise to digestion problems.
Symptoms of Teeth Grinding
- Inflamed gums
- Damaged teeth
- Headache when you wake up in the morning
- Tooth sensitivity
- Stiffness and pain in the jaw when opening the mouth wide open
- Sleeping disorder
How TMJ and Bruxism are connected
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) can be caused by bruxism and vice versa. Constant grinding of teeth can result in poorer functioning of the jaws and muscles. If you are constantly grinding your teeth, your jaw joints would feel exhausted and grinding your teeth at night can worsen the already existing effect.
Harmful Effects of Teeth Grinding
Untreated teeth grinding can lead to serious changes in your bite. Over time, it can result in loosening of your teeth and your bone may not be able to support your teeth with the strength it needs. The loss of one tooth can create a domino effect and all your teeth would start falling off. If teeth grinding is left untreated, it also leads to chronic headaches, tooth pain and TMJ pain.
Early TMJ treatment is essential. Ice or cold packs can be great in relieving you of the discomfort. You would also be advised to eat soft foods and avoid foods that are sticky. Your doctor will also prescribe medicines that would alleviate the pain. Massaging or self-stretching the jaw and neck muscles would also help in reducing the pain experienced.
Shen Chao is part of Dr. Joshua Hong’s Smile Clinic. While working for the Smile Clinic, he’s gained first hand experiences into the questions and concerns that dental patients have. He has been writing to inform people about various dental topics to help his readers improve their oral health. When he’s not working, you can find him on a hiking trail with his dog or having a Sunday cook-out with friends.