Your teeth have many natural ridges that curve up and down. With age, these ridges naturally flatten and become less pronounced. Look into your mouth using a mirror, and you’ll be able to see these ridges for yourself. However, not all tooth wear is natural. Passed a certain threshold, tooth wear can change from a natural process which occurs over a long period time, and instead become a common symptom of TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorder, especially when this tooth wear is accompanied by muscle soreness in the jaw or frequent headaches.
What kind of wear can be defined as beyond the normal threshold? How can you tell the difference? This blog will cover 3 clues that your tooth wear is the symptom of a bigger issue.
Your Tooth Wear is Increasing
Normal levels of tooth wear happens at a consistent rate, conditioned by the food you eat and the force of your jaw. Because we eat a similar amount of food every year, we should experience the same amount of wear each time you visit the dentist for a checkup. However, if your tooth wear is related to issues such as a crooked bite, or a condition known as bruxism, tooth grinding, the rate of wear can accelerate. Other factors could also be at play, such as the natural position of your jaw. TMJ that has advanced past a certain point can misalign the bite, and cause added pressure.
Cracked or Chipped Teeth
Normal wear doesn’t destroy teeth. If you’ve experience cracked or chipped teeth recently, or, worse, on a regular basis, then there is a high likelihood you’re experiencing accelerated tooth wear. When wear has passed a certain point, it can begin to damage the translucent outer layer of your teeth known as enamel, exposing dentin, or even the soft pulp inside your teeth.
Teeth Are More Worn Than Others of the Same Age
By definition, normal tooth wear refers to an average amount of wear experienced by others of the same age. If your teeth seem more worn than others of your age, you should see a dentist. How can you tell the level of your wear? If your teeth look shorter than most people your age, that may be a sign of wear. It may also be indicated by the amount of pain you may experience while eating, or if you teeth are sensitivity to hot and cold.
How Can I Stop Tooth Wear?
The best way to both assess and stop tooth wear is to schedule an appointment with your dentist. With a consultation, a dentist can examine your mouth for tooth wear and then suggest a treatment option that works for you. Often the most common cause of accelerated tooth wear is bruxism, or teeth grinding. By measuring whether tooth wear is constrained to one side of the mouth, a dentist can then provide a drug-free treatment option like a custom designed mouthguard. If, however, your tooth wear is accompanied by symptoms of TMJ, then treatment should focus on that, as TMJ can be a progressive disorder capable of causing permanent damage to the jaw and mouth.
If you are in the Westchester County, New York area and believe you may be suffering from symptoms caused by TMJ, please contact experienced neuromuscular dentist Dr. Wanda Mejia for an initial TMJ consultation at Advanced Dentistry of Mohegan Lake.