Normally, your teeth would only touch when chewing food, however some people grind or clench their teeth together on a more frequent basis during the day and at night. People who grind or clench their teeth with unnatural regularity suffer from what is known as bruxism. Grinding your teeth on a regular basis has serious effects on not only your teeth but also on your over-all health.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF GRINDING YOUR TEETH
Teeth Effects of Bruxism
Grinding your teeth wears down your teeth’s enamel considerably faster than they would normally wear down. Over the course of 10 years your teeth would naturally wear down .3 millimeters, but when you grind your teeth, the rate is much faster at a whole 2 millimeters by your mid twenties. That amount is almost 8 times faster.
This worn down enamel opens up your teeth to many more problems. With the protection of your enamel gone, you open yourself up to tooth sensitivity. Once the protective layers are stripped away from your teeth, you expose the deeper layers of your tooth, which don’t provide as much protection to your nerves. You may find yourself wincing in pain after eating ice cream or drinking coffee after prolonged grinding.
Another problem that is caused by bruxism is cracked, chipped, or broken teeth. When you grind your teeth, you are applying pressure of 250 pounds, which is much higher than the normal 20 to 40 pounds used when chewing. This amount of pressure can result in serious tooth damage and even lead to tooth loss. If you have fillings, grinding your teeth can damage those as well.
Health Effects of Teeth Grinding
While tooth damage may seem an obvious effect of grinding and clenching your teeth, other health effects may not. One of the more common overall health effects that result from bruxism is frequent headaches and migraines. The overuse of your jaw muscles and excess pressure can result in increased headaches throughout the day and can trigger migraines on a regular basis. It can also cause what may feel like an earache and lead to limited mobility of the jaw.
Grinding your teeth can also cause internal damage to your mouth. In the act of grinding or clenching your teeth, you may bite down on the inside of your cheek or tongue. With the pressure of 250 pounds, you can easily puncture your skin if you bite on it while sleeping. The constant grinding of your teeth can also affect the people around you. Believe it or not, grinding your teeth is actually very loud. You can keep those around you awake during the night and can even disturb your own sleep when you grind your teeth. That lack of sleep can disturb varying aspects of your health.
Teeth Grinding Solutions
The health effects of bruxism can be serious but they are also extremely treatable. Sometimes stress management or behavior changes can be enough to stop the grinding. Other times you may need more professional correction. Dentists can often correct bruxism with mouth guards, which separate the upper and lower teeth and protect them from the wear of grinding. Combining treatments can relieve much if not all of the effects of bruxism and leave you and your teeth healthy.