If you grind your teeth, it can lead to long-term problems. Teeth grinding is often caused by stress, anxiety, poor alignment or even missing teeth. Unfortunately, as a result, this condition can wreak havoc on your oral health and even the overall appearance of your smile. Luckily, there are some fixes available to help restore your smile and prevent further damage. Here are some of the different things that happen if you’re a teeth grinder.

Headaches and a sore jaw

While it is common to experience a headache and sore jaw upon waking, you don’t have to just “put up with” the pain. When you grind your teeth, it activates the muscles in your jaw and the sides of your head. It can even trigger the muscles in your neck and shoulders. As a result of constant muscle spasms, this is why you are experiencing headaches. Another symptom of teeth grinding is ringing in the ears, or tinnitus, which occurs because the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) of the lower jaw is next to the ear.

Worn enamel

Teeth grinding can also wear down your dental enamel, which is the protective layer that shelters dentin. When your enamel is worn down, it can lead to exposed dentin, as well as a change in the color of your teeth. Unprotected dentin can cause your teeth to take on a yellow or orange color. It can also increase your chances of getting a cavity. To make matters worse, damage to your enamel can also make your teeth look shorter. And to build that back up, you will often need crowns and veneers.

The development of TMJ problems

Through repetitive grinding, the muscles in your lower jaw can lock up. Teeth grinding causes stress in the two joints of the skull and mandible. This can lead to inflammation, muscle soreness and even hypertrophy of the muscles. As a result, it can make the jawline look wider and, in the long run, it can destroy bone, cartilage and ligaments of the joints. How the joint opens and closes can become significantly altered and TMD can develop, which can often be treated with an oral appliance.

Contact Dr. Sara in North Scottsdale for more information on teeth grinding and what can be done to improve your oral and overall health.