Bruxism, or the grinding of one’s teeth, can be detrimental on several levels. Some of these effects are not clearly apparent using solely common sense. Grinding of one’s teeth can have effects that go much deeper than temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
TMJ disorders are what most people think of when thinking about grinding of one’s teeth. This occurs due to excessive forces being placed on the teeth, which then translates to excessive forces on the jaw bones and the joints which connect the jaw bones to the skull. These disorders can lead to negative effects outside of just dental disorders.
There is research that has been associated with bruxism and migraines. The consistent, excessive forces placed on the TMJ and the associated structures of the jaw complex have been shown to have a positive correlation to migraines.
Wear facets, or loss of tooth structure on the biting surfaces of the teeth, has been shown to be directly correlated to bruxism. These wear facets can lead to a collapsed bite, devitalized teeth, or even tooth loss.
Abfraction lesions are triangular shaped lesions at the gumline. There has been evidence to suggest that these lesions are due to the forces being placed on the teeth from bruxism.
The side of the tooth that has the greater amount of forces has been shown to be the side of the tooth to develop these lesions. By lessening these forces on the teeth, the amount of attrition due to abfraction can be lessened as well.
Gum recession can also be correlated to bruxism. This correlation occurs through the process of attrition due to abfraction. As the teeth continue to lose their natural structure through abfraction, these lesions will start to impede the natural supporting gum tissue. As this grows farther down the tooth, the gums will maintain a natural distance from the lesion.
As the gums recede, this creates a loss of attachment to the tooth. Bone and gums have a very delicate relationship. As the gums recede, the bone will follow. This eventually leads to a significant attachment loss.
With significant attachment loss, eventually there will not be enough supporting structures remaining to hold the tooth securely in the socket within the bone. Once this support is lost, it cannot be regrown. This will then, eventually, lead to the loss of the tooth if the causation is not corrected.
Sleep dysfunction can also be attributed to bruxism. If one is constantly grinding their teeth, he or she cannot maintain an adequate level of restful sleep throughout the night.
How to Correct These Disorders
Although there is not one single answer to correcting all of these disorders, a comprehensive oral examination is a great place to start. After a complete examination, a dentist can decide if a patient is a viable candidate for bruxism therapy.
If it is determined that a patient is a viable candidate, his or her dentist will then commence therapy. Many times, this night guard therapy will be used in conjunction with selective grinding of the teeth to balance the occlusion.
Manfredini D, Winocur E, Guarda-Nardini L, Paesani D, Lobbezoo F (2013). “Epidemiology of bruxism in adults: a systematic review of the literature”. Journal of Orofacial Pain. 27 (2): 99–110.
Okeson, Jeffrey P. (2003). Management of temporomandibular disorders and occlusion (5th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby. pp. 191, 204, 233, 234, 227.
Bartlett, D.W.; Shah, P (April 2006). “A Critical Review of Non-carious Cervical (Wear) Lesions and the Role of Abfraction, Erosion, and Abrasion”. Journal of Dental Research. 85 (4): 306–312.
Bassetti et al., Lancet (2000); 356: 484–485Manfredini, D; Lobbezoo, F (June 2010). “Relationship between bruxism and temporomandibular disorders: a systematic review of literature from 1998 to 2008”. Oral surgery, oral medicine, oral pathology, oral radiology, and endodontics. 109 (6): e26–50.