Is Teeth-Grinding a Habit or a Condition?

When you grind your teeth because you’re angry, nervous, or agitated, it isn’t much of an issue. When you do it consistently, it might be considered a habit. Sometimes, however, grinding your teeth might indicate one or more underlying dental conditions, such as TMJ disorder, severe malocclusion, or an asymmetrical jawbone, among many others. Whether it’s a condition or a habit, excessive teeth grinding can lead to serious tooth wear and damage, and shouldn’t be ignored.

The Effects of Bruxism


Your teeth were meant to bite and grind, so what’s the big deal about bruxism? Mainly, teeth were meant to grind food, not each other, and the friction can wear them down, especially along their chewing surfaces. After a while, your teeth can grow weak and more likely to crack or break, or develop tooth decay when the softer tooth structure (dentin) is exposed to oral bacteria.


Your jaw’s muscles and joints, which power your bite, can also sustain injuries from being subjected to the extreme pressures of teeth-grinding. As both a cause and symptom of bruxism, TMJ disorder describes when your jaw’s joints are damaged, have a dislocated or perforated disk, or suffer from inflamed cartilage. The discomfort of TMJ disorder can spread along your cranial nerves, leading to chronic headaches, earaches, facial soreness and pain, and a host of other diverse symptoms.

When to Visit the Dentist

Before your teeth become seriously damaged, you can avoid the risks of prolonged bruxism by visiting Dr. Calcagno and Dr. Heimer if you notice that you grind your teeth more often than you should (your first consultation is free!). Since many bruxism patients grind their teeth at night, your best chance at detecting the issue may lie in your routine dental checkups and cleanings. If your teeth are worn, or if you frequently wake up with headaches and jaw soreness, then visit our office as soon as possible to determine the source of the problem.


Calcagno Family and Cosmetic Dentistry offer expert services including teeth whitening, Six Month Smiles, Invisalign, root canals, and pediatric dentistry. To schedule a consultation, please call (507) 218-8936. Dr. Gilly Calcagno and Dr. Kara Heimer welcome and serve patients from Rochester, Red Wing, St. Charles, Winona, Farmington, Austin, and the surrounding communities.