Can grinding your teeth kill you? That’s a big question for a condition that most people see as a just an inconvenience in their lives. So let’s deal with that question right at the outset… No, it probably can’t. Let’s face it, grinding teeth, or Bruxism as it’s correctly identified, in its mildest forms isn’t ever likely to kill you. That is unless your sleeping partner reaches the limits of their tolerance with the constant and infuriating sound of your teeth grinding together night after night!
But, if the condition is ignored and allowed to carry on undiagnosed then the potential consequences to your health could rapidly become very serious. Left untreated, in many cases the simple act of grinding or clenching teeth can lead fairly quickly into a condition known as chronic temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ). This is due to stresses that prolonged grinding places on the jaw and the temporomandibular joint. If you are unfortunate enough to have your teeth grinding deteriorate into TMJ then the most common symptom you will notice is pain. TMJ pain is often described as a dull aching around the jaw joint and ears. Other symptoms can include regular and severe headaches, jaws locking when trying to open the mouth, pain in the neck, shoulders or back and noisy jaws; that is grating, popping or clicking in the jaw joints.
In addition your ‘bite’ may feel uncomfortable or misaligned and the sides of your face may swell up. Other symptoms may include ringing in the ears, decreased hearing, ear pain, dizziness and vision problems. For some, the symptoms and eventually the condition may improve and over time disappear altogether, sometimes for no apparent reason, but for others the symptoms will worsen and develop into long-term, persistent and debilitating pain. But, you might ask yourself, how can anyone be so stupid as to not get treatment before something like that happens to them? Well, the majority of Bruxers don’t even realise that they suffer from the condition until it’s too late. It is believed that 1-in-4 of the population habitually grind their teeth. Of course they know that there is something not quite right, but they don’t associate their symptoms with nocturnal teeth grinding.
So if you find yourself waking up most mornings with a dull, throbbing headache or maybe the occasional pain in your jaw, toothache, tiredness and/or bleeding of your gums, or if you regularly sleep badly, have bouts of neck and shoulder pain or, and this is a massive hint at Bruxism, you notice significant wearing away of your teeth and molars, book an appointment with your dental practitioner.
Either that or ignore it and see just how many nights sleep your partner has to lose before they finally reach their tolerance limits with you! Don’t let teeth grinding kill you, visit your dentist today.