Effects of Teeth Grinding (with photos)

Teeth grinding might not seem like that big of a deal. In fact, I’m pretty sure at some point of self discovery you’ve attempted to re-create all this hoo-haa about bruxism by consciously grinding your teeth together. If you didn’t manage to make LOUD squeaky-like noises then you’re doing it wrong. I don’t blame you. What you do consciously and what you can do unconsciously (aka while sleeping) are two very different things.

Let’s do a quick little experiment right now to get a more accurate re-creation of what you do at night if you’re willing. Take a deep breath and clench your teeth (bite down) hard for a count of 10 seconds. Now let go and ‘try’ to relax. It’s not easy as it sounds is it? Notice how your jaw and teeth both feel a bit sore and out of place? That was just 10 seconds and nowhere near as strong as your unconscious state of teeth grinding. Imagine doing that every night for an average of 3-4 hours while you sleep. The amount of pressure you put on your teeth, gums and jaw is incredible.

Teeth grinding can translate into some of these following effects. A combination of more than 1 effect is very likely.

Jaw Pain

Fairly mild cases of bruxism may produce some soreness of the jaw muscles from time to time and there are some bruxers who don’t feel any form of soreness or pain at all. A common sign of the jaw being affected (regardless of whether there is pain or not) is the presence of a dull clicking or popping of the joint connecting the mandible to the temporal bone as pictured below.

The joint is located where the arrows meet and this is known as the temporomandibular joint or TMJ. The real danger of jaw pain getting out of hand as a result of untreated teeth grinding is what we refer to in medical terms as temporomandibular joint disorder also known as the same abbreviation of TMJ or TMD as some prefer to use. Jaw pain can become excruciatingly painful when one reaches this stage making it difficult to open the mouth to eat, drink or speak. TMJ also affects our whole body and can lead to many many other expected and unexpected health problems such as decreased energy levels, eyesight deterioration, back pain, numbness of the fingers, weak stomach, and the list goes on.

Chronic Headaches (+ Aches in the Trapezius Region)

Mild headaches may start to appear initially upon getting out of bed. As bruxism is left untreated, the teeth grinding activity causes a constant strain on the trapezius muscle (neck, shoulder, upper mid-back). This turns what started out to be mild headaches into unbearable throbbing chronic headaches. The tension of the muscles in the trapezius will also be felt.

Dental Damage

It is quite obvious that with constant teeth grinding, the teeth itself will directly be the most affected. You can easily see for yourself using a mirror the extent of the damage. Here are some photos of bruxism patients whose teeth have been severely worn down flat and chipped at the edges. You can also see the effect bruxism has on the gums as well which I’ll touch on in a bit. Note these photos are of severe cases and if you are reading this now, I don’t think your dental condition has gotten this bad but it may come down to this if you leave your teeth grinding condition untreated for too long.

(Photo Credit : WebDMD.info)

(Photo Credit : Tammy Davenport, About.com)

Dental damage subsequently can cause numerous other health problems as it is a very crucial part of our body. We use them regularly to perform our daily functions of eating and so on. Imagine not being able to eat normally due to extreme sensitivity to hot and cold.

Gum Damage

As you can also see in the photos above, the gums are also affected due to teeth grinding. Gums detiriorate and recede causing further mialignment of the teeth. While there are surgeries that can help fix this, ultimately you don’t want to get to this stage as surgery is very expensive and procedures not simple.

Sleep Disorders

While bruxism may actually be caused by sleeping disorders, the same can also be said for the other way round. Teeth grinding in your sleep can further aggravate your sleeping patterns and cause insomnia, restlessness, not to mention the effect on your sleeping partner.

Teeth Grinding can really cause some Serious Damage.
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