Bruxism is also known as night grinding and it is the involuntary clenching and grinding of teeth, often experienced during sleep. It is most often observed at night, but can also be a daytime problem.
The causes of bruxism are unknown, but many believe that it is related to stress, sleep disorders, effect of lifestyle, drugs, anxiety, depression and other psychological issues. It is involuntary, so it cannot be controlled; and often the signs of bruxism are not so noticeable at early stages, so it is not easily detected unless you have a companion that points out your awful habit.
Some people do not take bruxism seriously. Teeth grinding does not seem so ominous compared to the other conditions, so it is easy for them to dismiss it. Ignoring the signs and symptoms of teeth grinding, however, is not a smart thing to do.
The destruction and damage that the teeth and jaw can endure from a long history of grinding can be quite serious, so it is essential that you deal with it as soon as possible. Here are some reasons why:
It destroys tooth structure
Teeth grinding or bruxism causes irreversible damage to the teeth. Due to the constancy and intensity of the clenching activity, tooth structure can be abraded. The best sign of night grinding is the appearance of a flattened occlusal surface. The cusps will be gone, and the biting surfaces will be worn out, so that ample tooth structure is destroyed.
It exposes the pulp tissues
The pulp is the inner tissue that is encased by the hard tissues of the teeth and it has a direct connection to the nerves. Due to the clenching habit, tooth structure will be destroyed, exposing vital tissues and rendering the tooth more sensitive. When the pulp tissue is exposed, the tooth will be more sensitive, causing much discomfort to the patient.
It causes tempormandibular joint disorders
The temporomandibular joint is the jaw point that permits the movement of the lower jaw to open and close the mouth, as well as various other movements. At health, the bite or the complete set of teeth stabilizes the temporomandibular joint, so that function is efficient. The constant activity not only wears the TMJ, causing problems; but when tooth structure is destroyed and the bite is uneven, the joints endure most of the real damage.
It causes facial asymmetry
Unfortunately, whatever it is that is going on inside may produce signs outside. In other words, the collapse on one’s bite will bring about changes to the facial muscles, so that the patient’s face will appear uneven. Facial asymmetry is one of the severe consequences of prolonged night grinding. Apart from that, the further collapse of the bite will affect the skin on one’s face, so that it appears saggy, wrinkly and old.
There are so many things that you cannot simply take at face value. There are some conditions that do not seem ominous at first glance, but are more serious than you think. To better understand what is really happening, you will need to seek a dental expert.