Complications of Teeth Grinding
The oral disorder, in which a sufferer grinds or clenches their teeth, usually in a state of unconsciousness, is known as Bruxism. It usually occurs while one is sleeping and can make a soft, grating sound that is usually audible to the person’s spouse or sleeping partner, a long time before the person comes to know of their disorder.
The habit of teeth grinding is unintentional and has no purpose. Most people brux during the night however, some victims of bruxism indulge in the habit during the day as well. According to most researchers, stress is a one of the major causes of bruxism and hence, no specific treatment method is applicable in all cases. Sadly, this disorder develops itself and the little information available about it and its treatment methods, in addition to its disagreeable side effects, leads to further stress.
Am I a Victim of Bruxism?
The symptoms and signs of bruxism can easily be observed and can differ in accordance with the severity of the habit. Usually, this dental disorder is mild, but if the symptoms are noticeable, it is advisable to get the disorder treated in its earliest stage. If left untreated, the disorder can cause more grave side effects later.
The Complications and Risks of Not Treating Bruxism
Why bruxism should not be left untreated? Continuous teeth grinding wears the enamel and ultimately, exposes the dentine. The soft portion under the enamel is known as the dentine that wears away quite rapidly in contrast to the solid surface of the enamel, exposing the tooth pulp. Not paying enough attention to the condition during its early stages can result in many complications, leading to far more critical issues.
Below is a list of some of the common bruxism side effects, which can develop if the disorder is left untreated:
Teeth damage due to pressure – The habit of bruxing or continuous grinding can exert enormous pressure on your teeth (scientifically, the calculation has come up to an astonishing 250 pounds/square inch while sleeping, or around 18 kg/sq cm!), and is capable of wearing down teeth and flattening them, ultimately resulting in premature loss of teeth. Premature tooth loss and loosening of teeth usually occurs due to malocclusion and bruxing pressure. Moreover, teeth that contain cavities may fall of, and gum recession and occlusal trauma can occur as well. The extremely minimal consequence would be severe wearing down of your teeth.
Migraines and morning headaches – Bruxism has also been identified as a cause of morning headaches as well as sleep apnea and uneasiness in bed. However, as the habit is purely unintentional, the victim may not identify these as the likely causes unless informed by someone else. Moreover, bruxism is a potential cause of the occurrence of migraine headaches, and the risks of children developing this dental disorder is the same as it is in grown-ups.
Digestive problems – Bruxing can cause the enamel to wear down, and eventually, expose the dentine. In the absence of the enamel’s hard layer protecting the tooth, chewing food properly becomes difficult and consequently leads to digestion problems while food moves further down the system.
Indigestion – Eating and chewing food becomes quite difficult once the teeth grinding problems start to develop. Worn down or sensitive teeth are unable to chew properly causing indigestion (as the partly chewed food can cause stomach acid buildup). This can lead to poor dental health and severe pains.
Eating Disorders – Teeth grinding symptoms can cause difficulty in eating to such an extent that many people often prefer to reduce their food intake causing nutritional deficiency and weight loss. This can, in turn, result increase anxiety in a person, contributing further to the vicious teeth grinding cycle.
Occlusal Trauma – Serious complications can develop due to bruxism. As time passes, tooth wear caused by bruxism can result in Occlusal Trauma. This can mostly occur when the contact between the upper and lower jaw (while eating, talking or at rest) causes bouts of pain, tenderness or even wobbliness of the teeth. This symptom is quite severe and occurs only in case of extensive bruxing. Though, in most instances, this disorder has been diagnosed before approaching this stage (you will hopefully have identified your habit of bruxing before you reach such a stage).
TMJ Pains and Discomfort – Pointless clenching (clenching jaws at times when not required, besides eating and speaking) leads to TMJ pains.
The effects of this disorder can last for a short term as well as in the long term. This depends largely on the duration and severity of the condition. Therefore it is essential to consult your dentist if you have doubts about having it. It is strongly recommended to use a night guard, even if bruxism is in its initial stages.