The adverse effects of Bruxism (teeth grinding) ?

A girl is experiencing the side effects of bruxism on her teeth,  gums, oral muscles and TMJ.
Bruxism has a negative impact on teeth, gums, muscles and TMJ.

Bruxism (teeth grinding) is a multifactorial condition which may remain undiagnosed for a long time. During this period, we see the side effects of bruxism on our teeth, gums, muscles, and TMJ (temporomandibular joint).

Later on, these side effects can lead to clinically evident signs like tooth wear or painful symptoms like sensitive teeth.

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What are the side effects of bruxism on teeth ?

Bruxism, or teeth grinding, as the name suggests, has its first adverse effect on the teeth. It affects teeth in the following three ways: attrition, abfraction and tooth fracture.

  • Attrition is the loss of tooth structure from the occlusal surface (biting surface) of teeth. Thus, the length of teeth decreases. Also, the edges of the front teeth become ragged and uneven, causing cosmetic issues when we smile.
  • Abfraction is the loss of tooth structure from the cervical or facial surfaces (surfaces of your teeth near the gums). This loss is the commonest cause of sensitivity.

Both attrition and abfraction may be severe enough to require intentional root canals to be performed by your dentist.

  • Tooth fracture is the loss of a significant portion of your tooth as a result of excessive pressure caused by teeth grinding. These fractures can be horizontal or vertical. If it is a horizontal fracture affected teeth it can be restored and saved but if it is a vertical fracture affected teeth it may need to be extracted. 
Image showing attrition, abfraction of teeth due to bruxism.
Negative effects of bruxism on teeth and gums.

What is the impact of teeth grinding on gums ?

In normal conditions, the gums (periodontium) are attached to the teeth. The level at which they attach is called the attachment level.

Excessive forces generated by bruxism are transmitted directly to the gums. This causes the attachment level of the gums to go down. This process is called recession of the gums.

As the gums recede, tooth surfaces and root surfaces that were previously hidden become exposed to the oral environment. This causes tooth sensitivity.

With time, the teeth become slightly loose to highly mobile as bone loss starts. The excessive forces are being directed directly to the bone as the gums recede.

How does teeth grinding negatively impact face muscles?

Bruxism happens due to the constant contraction of oral and peri-oral muscles. These muscles are part of the larger group of facial muscles (facial muscles).

Due to constant contraction, muscle fatigue happens. This causes muscles to pain. Thus, simple acts of chewing may sometimes become painful. 

How does bruxism affect your TMJ (temporomandibular joint) ?

Bruxism causes TMJ pain due to grinding of opposing articular surfaces.
Teeth grinding causes TMJ pain.

If you grind your teeth, you may hear a clicking sound upon opening or closing your mouth. This is because of the excessive forces and damage to muscles, which cause the opposing articulating surfaces of your mouth joint (TMJ) to grind against each other. This may eventually cause TMJ Pain.

Closing Remarks

The effects of bruxism are multiple and are still being studied scientifically by doctors and scientists worldwide. However, the general consensus is that bruxism’s effects can have a considerable impact on the wellbeing of a perion.

Bruxism, in the long run, can cause headaches and sleep disturbances. This has a negative effect on one’s daily life. Thus, timely diagnosis and treatment of bruxism is very important.


L. T. Thayer, M., Ali, R. The dental demolition derby: bruxism and its impact – part 1: background. Br Dent J232, 515–521 (2022)

Published by StephyK

Dentist with years of experience in private dental hospitals.