Grapevine Tooth Damage and Wear

Your teeth should be able to stand up to a lifetime of wear and tear. Especially in modern society where we eat many processed foods and not as much raw roughage that requires strenuous chewing, our teeth shouldn’t get too worn down. If you have needed a lot of tooth repairs because of wear or chipping, and have also had problems with those restorations, then it’s likely that you have TMJ. Another sign of TMJ is teeth that are all worn down to the same length. And if you have noticed small cracks in your teeth, this is another symptom of TMJ.

If you have TMJ, you cannot treat tooth damage and wear as isolated incidents. We need to address the main bite problem to truly solve the cause of damage to your teeth. To talk to a TMJ dentist in the Dallas area about your tooth damage, please call (817) 481-6888 today for an appointment at the BITE Center for TMJ, Sleep, and Reconstruction.

Types of Tooth Damage and Wear in TMJ

When your bite is putting excessive force on your teeth, you may notice many different kinds of tooth damage that represents the stress being put on your teeth. You may experience:

  • Stress cracks in teeth (craze lines)
  • Chipped teeth
  • Cracked and broken teeth
  • Teeth all the same height
  • Teeth growing shorter
  • Yellowish material (dentin) visible inside teeth
  • Loss of high points and valleys in teeth
  • Enamel breaking off at the gum line

The types of tooth damage you experience depends on the source and character of the stress you experience, although multiple overlapping types of stress can obscure the distinction.

Craze Lines

Craze lines are small, vertical cracks in tooth enamel. These are often associated with tooth clenching (bruxism). These are very visible cosmetic issues, but they can also cause sensitivity and may be a sign of trouble to come. If TMJ isn’t treated, superficial cracks can grow deeper and may cause teeth to crack and break off.

Woman with jaw pain

Chipped Teeth

Chipped teeth tend to occur when your teeth are subjected to sudden excessive force. They are often associated with trauma, but they can also occur if your teeth are coming together too hard.

Cracked and Broken Teeth

Cracked and broken teeth describes a situation where a large portion of the enamel and dentin of a tooth breaks off. This is often the result of a combination of excessive pressure generally followed by a short, sharp shock.

Teeth All the Same Height

Our teeth start out at different heights. The central incisors in particular are larger than our other teeth. But over time these teeth can be worn down by excess pressure. This can occur naturally with age, but if your teeth are all the same height when you are relatively young (40s and younger), it’s a sign that your bite isn’t right.

Teeth Growing Shorter

Our teeth don’t grow, so they’re naturally going to become worn with age, but they shouldn’t be growing noticeably shorter year on year. If you notice that your teeth seem to be getting shorter at a rapid rate, you may be clenching your teeth at night.

Yellowish Material (Dentin) Visible Inside Teeth

Your teeth are made of several layers. The outer layer, enamel, is white and should be thick enough to last a lifetime, but if it wears away and exposes the next layer of your tooth, the dentin, you may have a problem. Not only will you experience more tooth sensitivity, but you are at a greater risk of developing cavities.

Loss of High Points and Valleys in Teeth

The shape of our teeth helps us break down our food. As our teeth become worn, they lose these features, which can make chewing more difficult.

Enamel Breaking off at the Gum Line

You might think that all tooth damage occurs at the point where teeth contact, but stress from bite force goes throughout the entire tooth, and can actually cause problems at the gum line. When you bite down hard, your tooth flexes, but the enamel isn’t as flexible and other parts of the tooth. This can cause the enamel to flake off where it’s thinnest, at the neck of the tooth.

Bruxism and TMJ

Bruxism is the technical word for teeth clenching and grinding. It’s the cause of much of the tooth damage related to TMJ. Bruxism has a very complicated relationship to TMJ. Sometimes, TMJ causes bruxism. That is, the inability of the muscles to find a comfortable resting position causes them to exert excess force on the jaw. This results in damaging force being applied constantly, causing the teeth to clench together and grind.

Other times, bruxism might be caused by other factors. Stress can lead to bruxism, for example, and bruxism can be a side effect of some medications. Bruxism can then put stress on the muscles and joints of the jaw, triggering muscle tension and jaw joint damage that results in TMJ.

Tooth Damage Continues Until the Bite Is Fixed

Many dentists will approach tooth damage as an isolated event. When a tooth is chipped, it will be fixed, either with porcelain veneers or dental bonding. Then the veneer will chip or the bonding will be worn away. The tooth might be chipped more. Other teeth will be chipped, restored, and then the restorations will be destroyed. This cycle will continue until the bite can be balanced, eliminating the excess force on teeth.

TMJ treatment aims to rebalance the bite and stop the cycle of tooth destruction. If you are looking for a TMJ dentist in the Dallas area who can help fix your bite, please contact our office online or call (817) 481-6888 today for an appointment at BITE.