Grinding your teeth — whether you do it in your sleep, during the day, or all the time — can lead to some pretty unpleasant toothaches. Unfortunately, the problems it can cause don't stop there. If you don't take steps to control and reduce the amount of time you grind your teeth, it can lead to serious damage. Keep reading to discover how grinding your teeth can ultimately hurt you.
Grinding two teeth together creates erosion over time. While enamel is tough, being repeatedly rubbed, scratched, and ground against another tooth's enamel will eventually break down that enamel.
When enamel is lost, tooth decay is typically not far behind. The enamel of a tooth does a great job of protecting the internal structures of the tooth from decay and infection, but once it's lost, the tooth has almost no defense. If you lose enough enamel, you can experience pain, serious tooth decay, and worse.
If you grind your teeth on a regular basis, you may already have this problem. Tori are bony ridges that form under the gums in response to tooth grinding.
While harmless, tori can be uncomfortable depending on how far they stretch your gums and where they sit in your mouth. The excess bone is developed as a coping mechanism, as your body attempts to protect the jaw from the strain it's under when you grind your teeth by building new bone cells.
With tori, you can expect the problem to go away gradually after you stop grinding your teeth.
Complete Tooth Loss
Finally, tooth grinding can actually lead to you completely losing your teeth. This can happen in a variety of ways. For example, enamel loss can lead to severe tooth decay, which can cause the tooth to become infected and needing extraction.
Alternatively, you can lose your teeth just from excessive pressure and stress over a long period of time. Too much stress on a tooth can cause it to fracture, or it can cause the root beneath it to be damaged after putting up with too much strain. In either case, you could end up needing a root canal or a complete tooth removal.
Grinding your teeth is about more than a simple toothache. If you're not taking steps to protect yourself from tooth grinding, consider doing so now. Wearing a nightguard will prevent tooth grinding while you sleep, and you can focus on being aware of when you're grinding your teeth during the day and learn how to make yourself stop. If you've been grinding for a long time, visit a dental office to make sure that the damage detailed above isn't already happening to you.