How Bruxism Affects Your Teeth And Gums

If you suffer from bruxism, the condition may affect different aspects of your oral health. Bruxism is teeth grinding that occurs at night as you sleep. As a result, you are typically unaware of the frequency and intensity of the grinding. In fact, you may only know that you suffer from the condition because your spouse has mentioned the grinding or your dentist has noticed enamel damage.

Damage can be avoided by wearing a mouth guard at night as you sleep. Here are a few ways that bruxism can affect your teeth and gums when a guard is not worn to absorb the shock of the grinding:


Cracks and Chips

Your teeth are exceptionally hard and are actually made up of several layers of material. The outermost white, hard layer is the enamel. Just below the enamel lies the dentin, which is yellowish in color and not quite as hard as enamel. Beneath the dentin, the pulp is housed. The pulp is a soft material that houses the nerves and blood vessels of the tooth.

During bruxism, the pressure from the teeth of the bottom and top palate being pressed together can cause a chip or crack in a tooth. if a chip or crack only affects the enamel or dentin layer, it may be repaired with composite bonding material or dental cap. However, if the pulp of the tooth is contacted, a dental cap that covers the entire natural crown of the tooth will likely be applied. 

It is important to protect the pulp from bacterial invasion that could result in a tooth infection. If a tooth infection does ensue, antibiotics and a root canal may be needed to kill the infection and repair the tooth. 

In instances in which the grinding cracks a tooth through its roots, dividing it into multiple pieces, the tooth must be extracted. 

Shifting or Loosening

Bruxism can also cause your teeth to shift. The force can move the root of the tooth from its position, loosening it. Even if the tooth becomes firmly affixed in its socket again, it may be left out of its original position, resulting in a dental misalignment.



During episodes of grinding, not only are the teeth affected. The gums are impacted as well. The force of the grinding can irritate the gums, especially if you suffer from a malocclusion that allows the teeth to make contact with the gums when your mouth is closed.

The gums can also become inflamed from a dental appliance rubbing against them during the grinding.

To learn more about bruxism and how it may affect your dental health, schedule an appointment with a dentist in your area.