The Dangers of Teeth Grinding

Teeth Grinding

Whether chewing gum or gnawing on a chunk of steak, you can thank your jaws for their hard work. On average, the strength of the human bite force is 162 pounds per square inch — enough to break down tough, fibrous foods and give your digestive system a head start.

However, if you grind your chompers without the cushion of food between them — a condition called bruxism — the force increases to about 250 pounds of pressure, which is bound to cause some problems. 

Catching bruxism early can prevent some serious consequences, and our team at OK Tooth in Midtown Manhattan, New York, is here to help. We can diagnose bruxism, assess its effects, and offer advanced treatments to repair the damage and stop your teeth grinding habit.

The facts about bruxism

Many people have bruxism without knowing it. Daytime grinding is easy to spot, but bruxism includes teeth clenching, which you may not realize you’re doing. Excess stress, intense concentration, and anxiety can lead to clenching that puts a tremendous amount of constant pressure on your teeth and jaws.

Nighttime bruxism is more common in kids and teens than adults and is more difficult to detect. Often, a bed partner notices the problem first because teeth grinding makes noise. 

Genetic factors, medications, and hyperactivity may make you more susceptible to bruxism, but tension and stress are the main culprits, and it occurs in people of all ages.

The dangers of bruxism

Mild cases of bruxism typically don’t call for treatment, but taking steps to stop the grinding protects your oral health. Here are some of the problems you may face if you ignore bruxism.

Pain and stiffness

Constant pressure and repeated grinding motions do a number on your facial muscles, making pain one of bruxism’s primary symptoms. You may feel discomfort and stiffness in your jaws, neck, cheeks, and ears.

Damaged teeth

It’s not tough to imagine how bruxism leads to tooth damage. Maximum bite force and no food to cushion the blow can cause chips, cracks, and fractures, opening the door for bacteria to make their way in. Over time, you’re looking at tooth decay and potential cavities that require fillings.

Receding gums

Bruxism also affects your soft tissues. The constant pressure loosens your teeth and creates gaps and pockets where your gums should hug your teeth tightly. This is another invitation for harmful bacteria to creep in and instigate gum disease.

Worn teeth

Constant grinding wears down your teeth and degrades the hard enamel. Eventually, this leads to misshapen teeth that throw your bite off. It also allows the brownish-yellow dentin layer to peek through the thinning enamel, making your teeth look dingy.

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD)

You have two joints on either side of your face that connect your jaw to your skull. These temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are hinges comprising bones, muscles, and ligaments that enable you to chew, yawn, and speak.

TMJ misalignment leads to muscle pain, clicking, locking, stiffness, and dislocation. Over time, osteoarthritis can set in. 

Headaches

Uncontrolled teeth grinding often triggers tension headaches and migraine attacks.

What to do about teeth grinding

Dr. Charles Marks and our team at OK Tooth value preventive dentistry. We believe the best treatment for bruxism occurs before it causes extensive damage. 

At the first signs of grinding, make an appointment to see us to learn how lifestyle changes and exercises can help you avoid the consequences of bruxism. We can even create a custom mouthguard you wear overnight to ease tension and stop harmful grinding.

If bruxism has already damaged your teeth, we can still help. Our state-of-the-art facility uses the most advanced technology and techniques to restore damaged teeth and gums. Depending on the type of repair you need, we may recommend:

In some cases, tooth extraction, root canal, and orthodontic treatments such as Invisalign®, may become necessary. 

Don’t let bruxism rob your oral health. If you’re grinding or clenching your teeth, we can help. Call or click to make an appointment at OK Tooth today.

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