Unveiling 7 Hazards of Bruxism, The Hidden Threat to Your Health
Consequences of Untreated Bruxism
Bruxism—or teeth grinding, as it’s more commonly known—is a prevalent issue that often goes unnoticed. This silent menace affects approximately 10% to 30% of the population and causes a myriad of complications that extend beyond oral health. Unfortunately, many people are unaware they have this condition and, therefore, could be unknowingly jeopardizing their oral health as a result.
For those who find themselves grinding their teeth or clenching their jaw, it may be easy to overlook the importance of understanding and dealing with their suspected bruxism. However, the consequences of untreated teeth grinding can be detrimental to your overall well-being. From headaches to jaw disorders, the health hazards associated with bruxism are not to be taken lightly.
Let’s shed some light on the unspoken dangers and learn why there is a need for awareness, prevention, and timely treatment.
1. Permanent Dental Damage
Bruxism exerts a lot of pressure on teeth, which leads to accelerated wear and tear. Although tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, persistent teeth grinding wears down this protective barrier, leaving the affected teeth much more susceptible to decay and sensitivity to heat and cold. Persistent grinding and clenching can also lead to chipping or fracturing of the teeth. These cracks progress deeper into the tooth the longer it’s left untreated, leading to pain, potential infection, and even a chance of losing the tooth.
Extensive restorative dental work will be necessary in the future if teeth are worn down. This could include the need for fillings, dental crowns, root canals, or even tooth extractions and dental implants. The domino effect of untreated bruxism can severely compromise oral health, so getting help is crucial if you suspect you’re grinding.
2. Unrelenting Jaw Pain
Chronic teeth grinding and jaw clenching puts a great deal of pressure on the temporomandibular joints, the hinges that connect your jawbone to your skull. Over time, this can cause chronic pain and discomfort that extends beyond your jaw to your face, neck, and even your shoulders.
Chronic jaw pain can make simple daily tasks like eating, speaking, or even just opening your mouth uncomfortable. As the pain persists, it often leads to difficulty concentrating, poor sleep, and mood changes that can impact your overall quality of life. Additionally, ignoring bruxism may eventually result in the development of a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), a condition that will likely require more significant medical intervention to manage than bruxism alone.
3. Aching Headaches
Untreated bruxism has a strong connection to recurring headaches, specifically tension headaches caused by the excessive strain and tension caused by teeth grinding. These are not your run-of-the-mill headaches either. Bruxers often report persistent headaches that can interfere with their daily routines whenever they strike. Over time, these headaches often escalate in intensity, even evolving into crippling migraines that can be downright debilitating.
The discomfort of these headaches can harm mental health by leading to stress, anxiety, and depression, and they can harm overall physical health as they lead to poor sleep and increased risks for other health issues, like hypertension (high blood pressure).
4. Disrupted Sleep Patterns
As mentioned above, bruxism can significantly disrupt sleep patterns, leading to a whole host of health problems. At night, the continuous grinding causes you to wake up from the noise or discomfort, preventing you from achieving deep, restful sleep. Consistent lack of quality sleep can lead to chronic fatigue, a decline in cognitive function, and increased susceptibility to illnesses due to a weakened immune system.
Chronic sleep deprivation can also contribute to mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. The body relies on sleep to rejuvenate and repair, so a consistent lack of restful sleep can take a toll on both physical and mental health. Worse yet, disrupted sleep patterns can exacerbate the bruxism itself, creating a vicious cycle of grinding, sleep disruptions, and worsening health.
5. Heightened Stress and Anxiety
The impact of untreated bruxism on stress and anxiety levels shouldn’t be underestimated. Behavioral teeth grinding often originates from stress and anxiety, but it also contributes to a heightened state of these conditions. It can often create a snowball effect, where the anxiety from the health implications of bruxism further exacerbates the grinding itself.
Chronic high stress and anxiety can also contribute to a range of health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, and weakened immune function. The mental strain from persistent anxiety may also lead to new mental health conditions like depression or a clinical anxiety disorder.
6. Facial Muscles Under Pressure
You know that bruxism can place a lot of pressure on the jaws, but you might not realize that it also causes constant tension in the facial muscles. This constant strain can lead to generalized facial pain and discomfort, usually in the form of headaches, earaches, or facial soreness. Over time, these symptoms can become chronic, impacting daily activities and overall quality of life.
Like any other muscle in the body, if the facial muscles are constantly under stress and not given time to rest and repair, they may become weakened and less effective over time, which can affect basic functionality, such as speaking and eating.
7. Sleep Apnea Susceptibility
Bruxism, or persistent teeth grinding, has been linked to an increased risk of developing sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder where breathing repeatedly stops and starts. It’s believed that the same factors leading to teeth grinding can also cause the throat muscles to relax excessively during sleep, causing interruptions in breathing. Existing sleep apnea can also be exacerbated by bruxism, as the stress and anxiety related to teeth grinding can further disrupt the sleep cycle.
The consequences of untreated sleep apnea can lead to various health issues, including heart disease, high blood pressure, liver problems, and type 2 diabetes. Poor sleep quality is also strongly related to daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and mood shifts.
Take control of bruxism before your health suffers.
It’s clear that bruxism is more than just an inconvenience—it’s a serious oral health concern with potential implications for your overall well-being. At Dental Care Associates of Buffalo, we understand the repercussions of teeth grinding and are committed to helping you find jaw and tooth pain relief.
With treatment options like dental nightguards and restorative dentistry to repair any dental damage you may have already experienced, we are here for you. Our team of experienced professionals will conduct comprehensive evaluations and design personalized treatment plans to address the root causes of your bruxism. Don’t let bruxism control your life and health. Take the first step toward effective treatment by scheduling a dental appointment with our dentists in Buffalo, MN, today.