5 Ways Grinding Your Teeth Can Impact Your Oral Health
Chronic tooth grinding, which is more properly known as 'bruxism', is a condition that can be caused by anything from stress to misaligned teeth, and it's often something people don't even know they are doing since grinding usually occurs while they sleep. While mild grinding doesn't usually require treatment, the condition can eventually damage your oral health, so it's worth talking to your dentist if you think you may be suffering.
Here are just five ways grinding your teeth can affect your oral health.
1. Receding Gums
It's easy to assume that tooth grinding will only affect the teeth themselves, but the gums can also be put under stress. Chronic grinding often causes teeth to move and loosen, which gives bacteria a chance to invade beneath the gums. When this happens, the gums will start to pull away from the teeth even further, which can result in complications such as gum disease and dental abscesses.
2. Enamel Erosion
The hard outer layer of enamel that protects your teeth is incredibly strong, but it can be worn down over time when you grind your teeth. Once the enamel starts to be worn away, your teeth will become more sensitive and will be more vulnerable to decay. It's impossible to regrow enamel once it has been lost, so this is clearly something to avoid.
3. Chips and Cracks
Grinding may weaken teeth to the point where chips and cracks can develop. This is particularly likely if one of your teeth has developed a cavity since this will already have impacted its structural integrity. Once chips and cracks develop, grinding can make them steadily worse. If the issue still goes untreated, you may eventually lose the affected tooth.
4. Lost Restorations
Crowns and fillings can provide an excellent way to restore and protect damaged teeth, but those restorations can also be affected by the constant pressure of tooth grinding. This can cause fillings and crowns to loosen and come away. Since grinding often occurs at night, this may result in you actually swallowing the restoration.
As noted above, tooth grinding can be caused by misaligned teeth. Unfortunately, misaligned teeth can also be caused or made worse through grinding, potentially forming a vicious cycle. All that pressure can cause teeth to shift, which can result in issues such as overcrowding and a poor bite. Movement is most likely among teeth with larger chewing surfaces, such as the molars.
If you are experiencing bruxism, contact a local dentist.