Teeth clenching and grinding, also referred to as bruxism, is a surprisingly common condition. Such clenching typically occurs when sleeping. Most patients who clench their teeth are unaware of just how extensive the damage is or how frequently the grinding occurs. Though everyone clenches their teeth, those who clench especially hard or frequently while sleeping face an elevated risk for numerous oral health problems.
Those who clench their teeth while sleeping often end up with tooth damage. In particular, grinding the teeth can damage the all-important protective enamel. If you are curious about whether your teeth clenching has caused such damage, stand close to a mirror, open wide and look for vertical hairline cracks. It is even possible for teeth clenching to cause stress fractures in the molars. These appear light brown in hue. Though a stress fracture is not a guarantee the tooth will crack, insufficient treatment for teeth clenching will increase the chances of cracks, possibly leading to especially deep cracks that put your dental health in jeopardy.
Teeth grinding causes a buildup of pressure on the jaw. The jaw is the largest bone in the human skull, so it can certainly withstand considerable pressure, yet even jawbones can fracture or falter in other ways when pressure builds up. If such pressure is applied consistently, it will spur a painful condition known as Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome, commonly referred to as TMJ. Teeth grinding also fatigues the jaw joints. Everyone should be aware that the protective reflexes are not active when sleeping, so grinding has the potential to prove more painful and damaging than most assume.
Additional problems caused by teeth clenching
Some who clench their teeth end up with complications such as an overdeveloped masseter muscle. This over-development results from consistent grinding. If the masseter muscle over-develops, the saliva glands within the mouth might be damaged, causing pain and swelling.
Teeth clenching can also cause digestive problems. Excessive grinding can gradually wear down tooth enamel to the point that sensitive dentin and pulp are exposed. If such sensitive portions of the teeth are exposed, it will prove that much more difficult to chew food. Partially chewed food will lead to digestive issues as digestive acid builds up. An excess of digestive acid causes all sorts of digestive problems, ranging from indigestion to reflux and heartburn.
If you suspect or know you clench your teeth while sleeping, do not ignore the problem. Reach out to our dentist for more information about the dangers of teeth clenching and what can be done to preserve your oral health. Give us a call today to schedule your dental exam and cleaning.
Request an appointment in our Carmel dentist office here: https://www.carmelsmilesdentist.com.
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