The Dangers of Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

If your dentist informs you that suffer from bruxism and are grinding your teeth, you may be surprised. You don’t do it consciously. Actually, you’re probably doing it while you sleep or in moments of stress when your attention is elsewhere.

Bruxism affects up to 31% of women and men, according to the Journal of Oral & Facial Pain and Headache. Although bruxism may sound like it’s relatively benign, it can cause a lot of other conditions, including some that put your overall health at risk.

At Dental Center of Tysons Corner in McLean, Virginia, our dentists — Maqsood Chaudhry, DDS and H.R. Makarita, DDS — are experts at diagnosing and treating bruxism and many of the other conditions associated with teeth grinding. Here are a few reasons why you should treat your bruxism:

Bruxism damages your teeth

When you grind your teeth back and forth and side to side while you sleep, eventually you wear down the points of your molars. Flat molars can’t chew your teeth properly, which may lead to digestive problems down the line.

The grinding motion also wears away your teeth’s protective enamel, making them more susceptible to cavities, decay, and infection. Infections in your teeth can down travel into your root canals and jawbone and even enter your bloodstream. By ignoring bruxism, you put yourself at risk for a root canal procedure or even for developing a life-threatening infection called sepsis.

Some women and men with bruxism also clench their front teeth, either when awake or when asleep.  When your front teeth are damaged and worn down by bruxism, you aren’t only at risk for infection, you alter your appearance and may need veneers or bonding to restore your smile.

Bruxism causes headaches and TMD

If you have temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD), bruxism may be at the root of your pain and dysfunction. The pressure you create at your jaw hinge when you grind your teeth can throw off the alignment of your jaw. If you have TMD, you may have symptoms like:

The tension in your jaw affects the other structures in your face and neck, too. If you grind your teeth, you may develop:

Treating your bruxism may alleviate a number of conditions you didn’t even realize were associated with this unconscious habit.

Bruxism is associated with sleep apnea

If you snore and stop breathing at night, you may have a dangerous sleep disorder called sleep apnea. Bruxism is associated with sleep apnea because researchers believe that the grinding is your body’s attempt to remind you to breathe again. Untreated sleep apnea puts you at risk for:

Luckily, bruxism is easy to treat. Our dentists conduct a thorough investigation to determine why you’re grinding your teeth, whether you have other conditions that also need treatment and then custom-design a plan for you to safeguard your teeth and your health.

Guard your teeth and health

One of the simplest treatments for bruxism is a custom-designed night guard that fits over and protects your teeth while you sleep. The night guard can be adjusted to position your jaw forward, which resolves sleep apnea by keeping your airway open, so you don’t snore or stop breathing.

If you have TMD or damaged teeth, our dentists help you resolve those issues, too. To stop grinding your teeth and get help with jaw, neck, or facial pain, contact us today. You can phone us for a bruxism consultation, or reach us with the online form. 

You Might Also Enjoy...

How Long Will I Need Invisalign?

You’re oh so ready for beautiful teeth. You know that Invisalign® works faster than traditional braces and fixes your teeth nearly invisibly, but you also know that it can’t all happen overnight. How long will you need Invisalign? It depends.

Dental Implants: A Treatment Timeline

You’ve made up your mind. You want the most natural-looking and healthiest tooth replacement possible, so you’ve decided on dental implants. Why? Because you’re worth it. So, how long will it take before you have the smile of your dreams?

What Causes Gum Recession?

You’ve always taken good care of your teeth, but on your last trip to the dentist, you found out that your gums are receding. How could this happen? What does it mean? And how can you restore your gums?

Spotting the Warning Signs of TMJ Disorders

Your jaw clicks or sticks when you open your mouth or chew. Or you’ve had more headaches recently. The problem could be your temporomandibular joints (TMJ). Luckily, dentists can resolve TMJ disorders and stop them from getting worse.

It's Not Just Snoring: The Dangers of Sleep Apnea

Snoring. You do it. Your parents did it. Your grandparents did it. It’s annoying, but not serious, right? Wrong: Snoring could mean you have a dangerous condition called sleep apnea that raises your risk for serious health issues.

Why You Shouldn't Ignore a Missing Tooth

Whether you lose a tooth in the front of your mouth or way in the back — where no one can see it — ignoring the gap puts your other teeth and your overall health at risk. Every missing tooth needs to be replaced. Here’s why: