Long Term Effects of Grinding your Teeth

Teeth grinding is a medical condition in which individual habitually or repeatedly grind or clench their teeth unconsciously especially during sleeping at night. Some individuals may grind their teeth unconsciously during the day in the course of tension or stress or anger.

Bruxism can cause several health complications but the long term effects of grinding your teeth can affect one’s life and may require medical treatment. The effects of bruxism are not limited to only the teeth, jaw and mouth but, effects can extend further to other body parts and become the main cause of another health condition.

Long term effects of teeth grinding can cause you another major health concerns and this may require treatment including surgery to correct any muscular and bone degeneration.

  • Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD OR TMJ) – Teeth grinding can cause TMJ or worsen the existing condition of TMJ. Constant grinding and clenching exerts force on the teeth and the jaw muscles impairing the muscles on the neck, jaws and shoulders thereby, impairing mobility. TMJ can cause acute or chronic swelling of the Temporomandibular joint (connecting the mandible to the skull). This can result in considerable pain and impairment. Individual with TMJ becomes susceptible to trauma, arthritis, neoplasia and dislocations.
  • Tooth breakage and tooth loss- Wearing down of tooth is the first visible effect of long term effects of grinding your teeth. Intense grinding and clenching causes tooth breakage or broken tooth in the long run.
  • Enlargement or hypertrophy- Teeth grinding involves extreme use of facial muscles (especially jaw muscles). In long run, the buildup muscle can result in square jaw look of the face. This may need surgery to remove part of buildup muscle in order to gain aesthetic looks.
  • Change in facial appearance- Worn out and damaged teeth can eventually become shorter as a result the upper and bottom jaws draw more closer and so are the chin and nose (when the mouth is closed). Skin may sack under the eyes and coil around the lips. Receding of the chin makes the affected individual look old.
  • Inflammation of the salivary glands- Long term effects of grinding your teeth is the inflammation and obstruction of salivary glands. Since muscles are overuse during teeth grinding process, the muscles enlarges or overdevelops abnormally. Enlarged muscles can obstruct the nearby glands (parotid) and thereby, hamper the flow of saliva inside the mouth. Blockage of saliva allows it to accumulate in the salivary glands, causing inflammation, pain, swelling and unusual mouth dryness.
  • Prolonged chronic migraines- Bruxism can cause debilitating prolonged migraines that are unbearable. When you grind or clench your teeth, the trigeminal nerve receives numerous signals and due to inability to handle these bombarded signals the trigeminal nerve misinterprets the signal and these results in pounding migraine. During a migraine occurrence, a noxious but simple pressure or stimulus changes the fluid surrounding the brain which is perceived as beating migraine.
  • Popping jaw joint- Popping and clicking of the jaw joints with pain occurs in long term bruxers.

Teeth grinding is not a life-threatening disorder but the long term effects of grinding your teeth can pose serious health problems and complications therefore, teeth grinding should not be ignored and taken for granted.

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