Teeth grinding, clinically known as bruxism, is an involuntary action of grinding, clenching, and gnashing your teeth, usually caused due to stress and anxiety. In most cases, this happens when a person is asleep. And if it does happen while the person is awake, they may not even realise it.
The consequences of teeth grinding are irreversible and non-recoverable, hence getting an insight into what would happen later would help you prevent teeth grinding in the first place. Let us see what can actually occur due to consistent teeth grinding and clenching.
Cracked Tooth Enamel and Broken Tooth
The enamel is a protective shell for the teeth and is the toughest tissue in the human body. But with constant attrition, that is tooth-to-tooth friction, this enamel can chip and break. Since enamel does not have living cells, the body cannot repair these. Also, the continuous pressure from gnashing and grinding can eventually chip or fracture your teeth.
Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)
The Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) is a condition that causes pain and dysfunctions in jaw joints and muscles that regulate jaw movements. There are various types of discomfort caused by TMD such as myofascial pain, internal derangement of joints and arthritis. Teeth grinding can cause TMD which can cause facial and chronic jaw pain.
Headaches and Earaches
Headaches and ear pain would usually be caused by TMD as mentioned above, due to the irregular or locked jaw movements. The pain from the bones of the jaw and joints instantly cause intolerable headache and earache.
Your tooth enamel protects the nerves located in the core of your teeth or the dentin region. The enamel also acts as a barrier between your teeth and extreme temperatures and chemicals. So when the enamel breaks, the issue of sensitivity arises. As the enamel breaks or erodes, the teeth lose their protection which leads to affecting the roots and ultimately resulting in pain or irritation whenever you consume something hot or cold.
Teeth grinding can lead to numerous speech issues like pronouncing letters in a certain way, slurring, problems with clarity of speech, and distortions in the speaking pattern. This happens because of the misalignment of teeth caused by teeth grinding.
Overdeveloped Masseter Muscle
This is a condition where the shape of the face becomes larger and swollen due to habitual teeth grinding. The salivary glands could get damaged and lead to periodic swelling and pain. The masseter muscle goes into hyper-function because of bruxism and results in changing into the overdeveloped version of it.
The wearing down of enamel results in the exposure of the dentin and pulp, making the person unable to chew properly. Partially chewed food creates an accumulation of digestive acid in the system that causes issues like heartburn, acid reflux, and indigestion.
The effects of teeth grinding are usually physical, but it may affect and hamper your lifestyle as well. In case a situation arises where you suffer from habitual teeth grinding, there are a few ways to prevent and stop teeth grinding, such as medication and the use of mouth guard. Obviously, this remains a big issue considering the discomfort caused and you should immediately contact an emergency dental clinic in such state.