Common Types of Teeth Damage or Wear
Our teeth naturally wear down with age, but considering the modern diet is free of the vast quantities roughage our prehistoric ancestors ate and the millstone grit found in early agricultural societies, our teeth should maintain much of their length and the youthful character of unworn teeth throughout our lives.
However, people with TMJ and related bite problems often experience significant wear, which can be seen in many ways:
- Stress cracks (craze lines) on front teeth
- Numerous chipped teeth
- Cracked or broken teeth
- Exposure of dentin — yellowish material inside the tooth
- Teeth all the same height
- Loss of high points and valleys in teeth
- Loss of enamel at the gum line
The erosion of your natural teeth can be accelerated by lifestyle choices (such as regular consumption of acidic beverages and foods) and oral hygiene (either insufficient or over-aggressive), but often when you are suffering serious tooth wear, a bite problem is to blame.
Bruxism and TMJ
Bruxism is unconscious clenching and grinding of your teeth. It can occur during the day or at night. Waking bruxism is often associated with stressful emotional states, but night bruxism is often independent of stress. Instead, it occurs during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Sleep bruxism is usually due to your muscles’ inability to find a restful, balanced position during sleep, often because your teeth don’t fit together properly or your jaw has been knocked out of place by trauma. When your muscles cannot find a restful place, they will pull and pull until they wear your teeth and bones down to what they consider a comfortable position.
Bruxism can be a cause of TMJ. People with bruxism for neurochemical reasons (often a side effect of medications) can put significant stress on their temporomandibular joints, causing damage and displacement. Other times, people with joint displacement can experience bruxism as a result, which in turn leads to more joint damage and displacement.
Parafunctions That Damage Teeth and Contribute to TMJ
Bruxism isn’t the only cause of significant tooth damage and TMJ. Another common cause is when you use your teeth for things other than what they are meant for by chewing on hard, nonfood items like your fingernails, ice, pens, and other objects. This nervous habit can damage your teeth directly, but it also puts stress on your jaw joints as the force requires to bite these objects is more than your jaw was designed to accommodate. As a result, you might damage your teeth, develop TMJ, and then get bruxism which can damage your teeth further.
TMJ Treatment Must Precede Reconstructive Dentistry
If your teeth have been significantly damaged by bruxism or TMJ, you are probably eager to get your smile restored to its former beauty. However, before we can use reconstructive dentistry to put your smile back together, we have to correct the bite problems that damaged your natural teeth. If we don’t your newly restored teeth will suffer significant damage and restorations will fail early.
We often see patients who have had this situation getting reconstructive dentistry from dentists who didn’t understand neuromuscular dentistry, and we know that you will be happier in the long run if you get your reconstructive dentistry done right the first time.
If you want to stop damage to your teeth and repair the damage already done, please call 201-546-8512 or email the River Edge Dental Center for TMJ, Sleep Apnea, & Reconstructive Dentistry today for an appointment with TMJ dentist Dr. Marlen Martirossian.