What is Bruxism? The Short and Long Term Effects.
Bruxism is the term given to excessive teeth grinding and clenching. This is not a normal oral function such as chewing or talking. Whilst the exact amount of people who grind is difficult to determine, several reports predict that around 8-31% of people will grind their teeth at some stage in their life.
Bruxism can occur in two different forms; awake bruxism and sleep (nocturnal) bruxism. Typically the effects of awake bruxism will worsen as the day goes on and sleep bruxism effects will be felt upon waking up and in the morning, and continue to get better during the day.
Short Term Effects:
The short term or instant effects of grinding are relatively extensive. Starting from loud and disruptive grinding and clenching, tired or tight jaw muscles, jaw neck or face pain or soreness. Pain that feels like an earache, dull headaches starting in the temples, sores on the inside of your cheek from chewing. Not to mention you and your bed partner are likely to be tired due to interrupted sleep. None of which are particularly pleasant and make waking up in the morning and make getting through the day more challenging than need be.
Whilst the number and prevalence of these short term effects will vary per person, the real issue occurs when these short term effects are not dealt with. This is when long term, permanent issues will begin to arise..
Long Term Effects:
Teeth becoming flattened, fractured, chipped or loose. Eventually if bruxism is not treated, the effects of grinding your teeth is going to have a noticeable effect on your teeth as each time you are bruxing, you are gradually wearing your teeth down and putting strain on your teeth.
There is little that can be done to fix flattened teeth, but as you can imagine like all visits to the dentist, fixing fractured, chipped, cracked or lost teeth can be very costly.
Popping or clicking in the jaw, which is also referred to as lockjaw. This is where a person is incapable of opening their mouth to the full extent or if they do, they experience pain and discomfort.
In serious cases, bruxers may develop TMJ dysfunctions and disorders. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint dysfunction, which causes pain in the jaw joint or in the muscles that control the jaw movement. This does no favours for those suffering from bruxism as grinding and clenching will get worse. As will pain and discomfort in the jaw continue. More serious issues such as arthritis, jaw injury and connective tissue disease can also arise as a result of TMJ.
Possibly one of the most expensive and permanent long term effects of bruxism is the damage on a bruxers teeth. Overtime, bruxing can significantly wear down your teeth, exposing the enamel and sensitivity. The effects of worn down teeth also affect the sensitivity of your teeth, leaving them feeling sensitive to pain as the tooth enamel has been worn down, leaving deeper layers of the tooth exposed.
As you can see, it’s extremely important we pay attention to our body and deal with the possibility of grinding and clenching to ensure you don’t suffer from any of these possible effects! Prevention is easier and far more affordable than trying to deal with these longer term effects further down the track. Do your body and your bank account a favour!