Teeth grinding may lead to numerous health consequences. Some of these issues are short-term, but often many patients face more serious long-term problems, which may eventually become permanent. If you neglect to treat short-term issues timely, they may cause more painful and severe consequences. That’s why it's crucial to consult a doctor at first signs of teeth grinding. Not only to avoid enamel erosion and tooth loss, but also to prevent changes to your facial appearance.
Here are some of the most common long-term effects of teeth grinding:
1. Damaged Teeth
Most people subjected to long-term teeth grinding actually have flattened teeth with an even, square appearance. Grinding wears the occlusal surfaces of your teeth enamel, leading to worn down and shortened teeth. The more grinding is left untreated, the more severe these consequences get. Grinding your teeth can also damage dental work including fillings and crowns, causing them to fail and needing replacement.
2. Changed facial appearance
Many patients find that long-term teeth grinding leads to hypertrophy of masseter's musculature, causing their jaw to bulk up and take on a masculine appearance. The swollen and square jaw is a highly unwanted side-effect in many female patients. Masseter reduction with Botox can help narrow the jawline leading to a more feminine appearance. Plus, masseter muscle reduction can make your face look thinner.
3. Sensitive teeth
Grinding permanently wears down the protective layer of your teeth. Enamel erosion makes the inner layer of your teeth exposed to dangerous oral bacteria, food acids, and dental plaque, leading to cavities. These small holes and openings in your enamel cause cold and hot temperatures to get to the nerves in your teeth, making some foods and beverages uncomfortable at best and painful at worst.
4. Headaches and jaw pains
Grinding in your sleep typically lasts for 49 minutes to an hour, and produces more than 250 pounds of force per square inch. This amount of pressure is enough to crack a nut. That’s why excessive use of jaw muscles leads to discomfort, pain, and headaches.
5. Receding gums
Teeth grinding is one of the major culprits of gum recession for various reasons. Grinding puts lots of pressure on your gums and causes them to pull away from your teeth and form pockets. Gum pockets accumulate dangerous oral bacteria and food residue, leading to periodontal disease. This serious gum infection decreases the amount of tissue that supports your teeth and leads to loss of volume and density in the underlying bone.
6. Tooth loss
In severe cases of teeth grinding, your teeth can start detaching from the jaw. In addition to the weakening of the tooth itself, this can put you at increased risk of pushing one of your teeth out of its socket.
7. Speech problems
Teeth grinding can result in different speech problems like difficulty in pronouncing sounds, slurring, poor speech clarity, and distortion in the speaking pattern. These problems occur due to malocclusion of the teeth caused by teeth grinding.
8. Digestive problems
Enamel erosion leads to the exposure of the dentin and roots of your teeth, creating serious problems with chewing. Poorly chewed food leads to the build-up of stomach acid in the body, causing problems like heartburn, acid reflux, and dyspepsia.
The bottom line
If you constantly grind your teeth at night or/and during the day, consider contacting a specialist to prevent numerous problems with your teeth, facial appearance, speech, and digestion. Remember that most of the problems caused by grinding your teeth are permanent and require costly and extensive treatment. So it’s best to prevent them in time, to avoid unnecessary complications.