Teeth Grinding Is More Than Just an Annoying Habit

Teeth Grinding McLean, VA

Those who experience teeth grinding may suffer more than just a few restless nights. Morning soreness in the face and jaw can indicate that grinding has occurred in the night. Some people might even discover they absentmindedly grind their teeth throughout the day. Causes of grinding can range from bouts of anxiety to strenuous daily labor.

Risks associated with grinding teeth

Those who occasionally grind their teeth may not suffer long-term effects, particularly children who have not yet acquired their permanent teeth. For adults, however, frequent teeth grinding can mean permanent damage to the teeth, as well as constant and debilitating pain. Factors such as daily stress, physical strain and alcohol or tobacco abuse can cause chronic teeth grinding. It is important to keep tabs on morning soreness in the mouth or jaw whenever it lingers from the night before.    

Enamel loss

As teeth gnash together, it can lead to the erosion of enamel. This erosion is problematic because once the enamel is gone, it is gone for good, not growing back. In such cases, there is nothing left to protect the inner “pulp” of the tooth, which means that repair by dental restoration methods will be the only way to reconstruct the tooth.

Enamel also fortifies the inner regions of the teeth that are vulnerable to permanent damage and decay. These areas contain nerve endings, blood vessels and soft tissues that give the tooth its vitality. With particularly violent teeth grinding, the teeth may not only suffer erosion but actually crack and break.

Headaches from TMJ

A telltale sign of teeth grinding is usually headaches, ranging from dull to debilitating. The jaw’s grinding motion can place stress on a wide range of interconnected muscles, even as far out as the temple. This leads to soreness across the jaw, cheeks and forehead.

In severe cases grinding can cause migraine headaches or temporomandibular joint disorder. TMJ may result as the jaw works feverishly in the night, trying to find a comfortable place to rest. This is what powers the grinding motion. As the jaw oscillates back and forth, painful muscle aches are the result.

Lost sleep

In adults and children, chronic teeth grinding may cause sufferers to lose sleep at night. A lack of sleep can result in a range of health risks, from fuzzy-headedness to serious health concerns such as heart disease, diabetes or depression. In addition, teeth grinding can also be loud and abrasive-sounding at night. Partners of those who grind their teeth could suffer affected sleep as well.


Teeth grinding can pose more of a serious health risk than what many people otherwise expect. Permanent teeth cannot regenerate from the damage grinding can cause, so it is important to monitor constant headaches and jaw aches that may indicate a grinding habit you are unaware of. If left unchecked, regularly occurring grinding can pose a notable risk to the overall health of the mouth and body.

Request an appointment here: https://www.oaktreefamilydental.com or call Oak Tree Dental at (703) 763-5239 for an appointment in our McLean office.

Check out what others are saying about our dental services on Yelp: TMJ Dentist in McLean, VA.

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