Recently, I’ve noticed something at my practice. There’s a growing number of patients who come in for routine care and complain of TMJ related problems like tooth grinding (bruxism) and clenching. Even more surprising is that patients of all ages are suffering these problems. At New York General Dentistry, my patients range in age from 3 to 92 years old and anyone can suffer from TMJ pain.

After a thorough comprehensive exam of the TMJ and evaluation of a patient’s medical and dental history, I’ve found nearly 60% of my patients report some form of TMJ pain starting at as young as 7 years old.

The dangers of teeth grinding

The biggest problems associated with grinding and clenching are TMJ damage, wearing away of healthy tooth structure, and head/neck pain, which includes migraines and tension headaches.

Enamel loss

The wearing away of enamel from the teeth is an equally concerning matter.

The forces from grinding and clenching can be up to 800 pounds per square inch. This extreme force can cause enamel to break or wear away over time. People with fillings and dental work often come in with broken restorations caused by grinding and clenching. In many cases, their restorations are fairly new and would normally last longer.

Another consequence of lost enamel is that the facial structure begins to collapse. If you’ve ever seen a person with no teeth, they often look sunken and sallow. This same effect can occur over years of grinding and clenching.

Head and neck pain

The final issue of head and neck pain is often overlooked by medical doctors. When a person is grinding their teeth, the muscles in the face and neck area are in spasm. If you were going to the gym for a workout and overdid it…you’d be sore …RIGHT?

The same happens to the muscles of the face and neck, which can manifest as neck pain and migraines.

What causes tooth grinding?

The direct cause of tooth grinding is not fully known. However, a huge contributing factor is stress. Anything you can do to alleviate your stress will definitely help.

Stop grinding your teeth at New York General Dentistry