Whether you do it when you’re awake or asleep, teeth grinding can lead to numerous dental problems later on. Known in the dental and medical community as bruxism, it’s an all-too-common condition that occurs in some 30-50 million Americans. Unfortunately, most people go throughout their daily lives completely oblivious to the negative health effects of teeth grinding. It’s not until the condition has created unwanted side effects that most people realize the true impact of grinding their teeth.
Causes of Teeth Grinding
Before we go into some of the problems associated with teeth grinding, let’s first discuss the causes of this condition. One of the most common causes of teeth grinding is stress (mental, not physical). It’s a common assumption that stress is only psychological and doesn’t manifest itself through physical symptoms; however, this simply isn’t true.
According to StatisticsBrain.com, 77% of people living in the U.S. report regular physical symptoms brought on by stress, including teeth grinding. When you’re stressed, the muscles in your body instinctively tighten. In turn, this forces the jaw shut, causing the individual to grind his or her teeth.
Other causes of teeth grinding include the temporormandibular joint (or TMJ, the jaw joint), insomnia, gum disease, and malocclusion (misalignment). Children are more likely to grind their teeth, but this condition may appear in people of all ages.
Problems Caused by Teeth Grinding
You might be surprised to learn that grinding your teeth for long periods of time can trigger headaches. Constantly forcing pressure against your upper and lower jawbone stresses the nervous system, which may trigger a headache or migraine. It’s not uncommon for people to wake up with a headache and/or earache after grinding their teeth at night.
Of course, bruxism can also lead to tooth damage. The outer layer of enamel protecting our teeth is incredibly strong, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it will hold up under the stress of grinding. Grinding your teeth night after night may result in wearing of the enamel or even create cracks and fractures.
If you have any cavities, bridges or other dental work, grinding your teeth could leave them vulnerable to damage.
Underbite or Overbite
Teeth grinding increases the risk of developing an underbite or overbite. Whether you’re young, old or anywhere in between, your natural jaw position may shift due to bruxism. It’s not something that happens overnight, but several years of teeth grinding may lead to the development of either an underbite or overbite.
If you have problems resulting from teeth grinding or if you are in need of an emergency dentist in Creve Coeur, MO please contact the Schuman Center at (314) 432-1444.