Teeth grinding, known medically as ‘bruxism’, can be caused by numerous factors, including sleep apnoea and stress. Regardless of the root cause, it’s a habit that should be avoided. If you’re already a grinder, here are just four reasons why you need to consult with your dentist as soon as possible.
- Stress Fractures
As you grind your teeth, tiny stress fractures can develop. People often first notice these fractures when a light brown streak is seen across the teeth. It’s an issue that can lead to decay since plaque and bacteria will be able to invade areas a toothbrush cannot reach. If left untreated, stress fractures can lead to the need for extensive tooth restoration.
- Enamel Loss
Your teeth are protected by a hard surface of enamel – that’s the strongest substance in the entire human body, but it can be worn down through extensive grinding. Enamel cannot be regrown once it is lost. When it wears thin, you’re more likely to suffer from decay, infections, and sensitivity. Next time you grind your teeth together, keep in mind that you’re slowly grinding them away.
- Jaw Damage
Grinding obviously puts pressure on the teeth, but it’s a habit that also places pressure on the jaw. As the largest bone in your skull, the jaw is meant to withstand plenty of pressure, but habitual grinding can cause muscle fatigue and Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ). TMJ can result in excessive pain and discomfort, and it sometimes requires very expensive work to put right. In some cases, the jaw may become misaligned, which can only be corrected through surgery.
- Flattened Chewing Surfaces
Each tooth in your mouth has its own special purpose. The molars, for example, have surfaces designed for grinding and chewing tough food, while the incisors are used for cutting or shearing food into small pieces. If you keep grinding your teeth, you risk flattening these surfaces. If you only grind a couple of teeth together, the rest will have to compensate. In any case, you’ll be chewing your food a lot longer, putting unnecessary pressure on each tooth as you do so.