Can Teeth Grinding Hurt Your Health? The Answer May Surprise You

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a common condition. In fact, it affects up to 31 percent of adults. It involves involuntarily grinding or clenching your teeth, often while you’re sleeping. This habit can lead to many oral health issues if left untreated. Not only that, it can hurt your overall health. 

In this post, we’ll explore the damaging effects of teeth grinding, what causes it, potential treatments, and tips for relieving pain from bruxism. In particular, we’ll look at how Dr. Kaady can help you. 

How Teeth Grinding Harms Your Oral Health

Grinding places enormous pressure on your teeth and jaws. According to the Cleveland Clinic, it may create 250 pounds of force! This eventually causes the following problems:

  • Tooth Sensitivity – Worn enamel allows the dentin underneath it to become exposed and sensitive to hot/cold foods and liquids. 
  • Tooth Cracks and Breaks – Years of grinding can cause tiny fractures in the teeth, leading to broken cusps or even split teeth.
  • Loss of Dental Structure – Significant wearing of the biting surfaces flattens and thins your teeth over time.
  • Loosening of Teeth – Continuous grinding transfers excessive forces to the tooth roots and jawbone, leading to loosening.

In addition to dental effects, grinding has been linked to TMJ disorders. The grinding causes inflammation and irritation of your temporomandibular joints (TMJ), the joints that attach your jaw to your skull. Common symptoms include jaw and facial pain, headaches, earaches, difficulty opening and closing your mouth, and a jaw that can become locked in place. 

What Factors Contribute to Teeth Grinding?

The exact cause of bruxism isn’t always clear, but potential contributing factors include:

  • Stress and anxiety 
  • Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea 
  • Crooked teeth or other dental abnormalities 
  • Side effects of certain medications like antidepressants
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol, caffeine, or recreational drugs

Stop Grinding With a Mouthguard & Relieve TMJ Pain 

If left untreated, the long-term damage from teeth grinding adds up over the years. It can result in your needing extensive dental work. The good news is, Dr. Kaady can diagnose and treat bruxism. He’ll use 3-D imaging to look at your teeth, bones, and facial muscles. He’ll also discuss your symptoms and risk factors. 

Your treatment may include:

  • Custom Oral Appliance – Made using impressions of your teeth, an appliance covers the biting surfaces. This prevents grinding and absorbs forces placed on the teeth.
  • Relaxation Techniques – Since the problem is often linked to stress, you may benefit from stress management through biofeedback, meditation, or counseling. 
  • Orthodontic Treatment – A misaligned bite can cause or contribute to grinding problems. We may recommend realigning your teeth through orthodontic treatment or possibly reshaping your teeth with a contouring treatment. Once your bite is properly aligned, it should alleviate grinding.

As with other issues, Dr. Kaady believes in using a holistic approach to stopping grinding and solving TMJ problems. He may consult with specialists such as a chiropractor, sleep medicine doctor, or myofunctional therapist (specializing in correcting improper placement of the tongue and facial muscles). 

Tips to Soothe Jaw Pain from Bruxism

The tension placed on your jaw joints and facial muscles can cause quite a lot of jaw and facial pain. You can try these tips to help relieve discomfort:

  • Apply Hot or Cold Packs – Alternate a hot pack and cold pack on painful jaw muscles to increase blood flow and reduce inflammation.
  • Massage – Use your fingertips to gently massage sore facial and jaw muscles to ease tension.
  • Over-the-Counter Pain Medication – Pain relievers like ibuprofen can temporarily alleviate pain and swelling.
  • Soft Foods Diet – Stick to soft foods like soups, pasta, and steamed vegetables to give overworked jaw joints and muscles a rest.

Putting an end to teeth grinding requires determining the cause and working with Dr. Kaady to protect your oral health. Implementing both dental and lifestyle changes will help halt this harmful habit for good!

To schedule a consultation in our Portland, OR office, call Bridgetown Dental at 503-809-4742 today. You can also schedule online