Tooth clenching (bruxism) is bad for our teeth all around. It damages our enamel and can lead to significant wear on our teeth. Although it’s easy to see that tooth wear on the crown of your teeth is caused by clenching our teeth, many people don’t realize that tooth wear at the gum line, what we call cervical notching, is also caused by teeth clenching.
How Enamel Is Affected by Tooth Clenching
Tooth enamel is the most mineralized tissue in the human body, basically 96% mineral. It’s very hard, but also rigid, which means that it’s not very flexible, and could be brittle.
To counteract the brittleness, the enamel is composed of a series of rod-like structures that stack on one another, oriented from the interior of the tooth toward the outside. These rod-like structures allow the enamel a little bit of flex. When the tooth is subjected to excess force, the soft dentin inside the tooth can squish just a little, which pulls the rods apart. This happens especially at the neck of the tooth, called the cervical region, where the crown of the tooth meets the root and the enamel reaches its end.
How Clenching Leads to Erosion
The enamel rods are strong and hard together. Once they start getting separated, they become vulnerable. All it takes is an outside attack that can begin to break away the enamel, and those are all too easy to find.
Once damaged, your enamel could be worn away by the acidic foods and beverages we consume every day. Soda, of course, is a bad one, but there are many others. Tea, coffee, and wine, are all acidic. Even hard, crunchy foods that are good for healthy teeth can create abrasive particles that will wear away this vulnerable enamel.
Brushing is another culprit. To help clean your teeth, toothpaste contains abrasives, and even the brush itself may be enough to wear away this vulnerable enamel.
Some people even believe that this vulnerable enamel may flake away without additional pressure.
If you’re noticing tooth wear or erosion of your teeth around the gums, you need to see a neuromuscular dentist who can properly diagnose a bite problem and treat it to prevent further damage and TMJ. Then a cosmetic dentist can restore the damage to your teeth to give you an attractive, healthy smile.