Teeth grinding (also known as Bruxism in formal medical parlance) is a condition many people suffer from. Tooth damage is one of the most obvious dangers of teeth grinding. Stress fractures almost always occur eventually if the condition is not treated in its early stages. Certain individuals who suffer from teeth grinding experience stress fractures many of their molars. Many patients notice these fractures, which appear light brown in color, and seek the advice of a dentist thinking the discoloration is the beginning of cavities. Eventually, in the absence of treatment, patients will begin to lose sections of their molars or other teeth as the cracks deepen and the teeth give way to the constant pressure. In some cases, extensive tooth restoration must be performed.
In addition, as one's teeth wear out, they become shorter. This causes the upper and lower jaw to come together with greater impact when one is chewing, which further exacerbates the problem. Many patients also suffer from eroded enamel that occurs from the constant clenching and grinding seen with the disorder. In some cases, patients grind their molars deep into the gum line, from where they must be surgically extracted.
Teeth grinding leads to excessive pressure being placed on one's jaw. The jaw is the human skull's largest bone, and as such it is able to withstand substantial pressure. However, when the excessive pressure becomes habitual, the result is often a very painful condition called Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome–TMJ. Unfortunately, those suffering from Bruxism are rarely aware of what they are doing until painful symptoms present themselves. Symptoms include earache, headaches, clicking in the jaw and chronic jaw pain.
Eventual jaw misalignment almost always occurs in cases of untreated, long-term teeth grinding. If the misalignment is severe in nature, it can only be corrected through surgery.
Those with bruxism are also not good candidates for a dental implant, which is an artificial tooth that is often used to replace a natural tooth, typically a molar, that was pulled. Implants are considered by dentists to be superior to bridge work, but they are rarely recommended for those with uncontrolled bruxism as such patients frequently grind the device too far into their gum line and subsequently damage their jaw. Additional complications include an overdeveloped masseter muscle from the continuous grinding, which can damage the saliva glands in the mouth and lead to periodic swelling and pain.
To avoid establishing a destructive, long-term pattern, those who are aware that they have developed a teeth grinding habit or are concerned they may be suffering from bruxism should seek the advice of a dental professional as soon as possible.
One treatment option is mouths guard for grinding teeth, which are orthodontic devices that can be placed in the mouth during the night to prevent subconscious grinding while one is asleep. For more information, please read on about teeth grinding treatment.