Why is teeth grinding harmful?

Teeth grinding is harmful for several reasons. First, it causes damage to the teeth by wearing the enamel off the biting surface of the tooth and along the gumline. This can lead to tooth sensitivity. Second, the forces generated from grinding can cause cracks to form in the teeth and can cause the teeth to break. Third, the grinding can damage the jaw joint (TMJ) and cause the jaw to hurt. If you suspect that you are grinding you should see your dentist. An appliance called a biteguard can be made by your dentist to protect your teeth and jaw joint from the harmful effects of grinding.

Dante A. Gonzales, DMD
Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, can be very harmful to your teeth and your jaw joint (TMJ). Grinding your teeth can lead to excessive wear, chipping, fractures, sensitivity to hot and cold, and even tooth loss. Grinding your teeth is usually done at night when you are asleep and not aware of the damage you are inflicting on your teeth. If you are waking up to sore or sensitive teeth, jaw muscles, or joints, you may be grinding your teeth at night. There is very little your dentist or doctor can do to prevent you from grinding, but they can prescribe a nightguard that can help protect your teeth and jaw joint from damage while grinding.

Not only does teeth grinding cause discomfort in the form of headaches, earaches, sore jaws and toothaches, it can also wear down your teeth, leading to broken or cracked teeth and/or loose fillings. That's why regular dental checkups are important to finding damage in the early stages.

If you suspect you are grinding your teeth, schedule an appointment with your dentist. Your dentist can help you manage bruxism and its related symptoms, as well as repair and help prevent further damage to your teeth.
Chronic, untreated teeth grinding, or bruxism, is not life-threatening, but it can be harmful to the teeth, jaw and surrounding muscles. People with severe bruxism can break dental fillings, chip, crack, or damage their teeth. Rubbing the teeth together for longer periods of time than normal can cause the outer layers of enamel to wear away, exposing dentin and causing tooth sensitivity. Severe bruxism can also lead to jaw dysfunction, called temporomandibular disorders (TMD), headaches, and facial pain.
Some patients have made their teeth so sensitive from grinding that they can't eat cold or hot foods. They try 'sensitive toothpastes' which are good in general, but they don't address the cause of the sensitivity.

Restoring heavily worn teeth to great esthetics and comfortable function is very difficult, expensive and easily prevented. Don't ignore bruxism until it is too late!

Continue Learning about Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

If you notice that your teeth look worn or fractured, if you have unexplained facial pain, or headaches, you may have bruxism. This is an unconscious habit of grinding or clenching your teeth. Also common is sleep bruxism, where a ...

sleeper grinds his teeth. While mild cases may not need any treatment, more severe cases may be treated with a mouth guard or splint. Sometimes reducing stress or managing stress can help. The condition is more common in children, and they often grow out of it by their teens.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.