Your enamel is the strongest tissue in your entire body. While it is solid and durable, it can still receive damage. Over time, your teeth can naturally wear down due to age or wear and tear. However, there are some conditions that can accelerate the process.
Bruxism is a condition in which a person will grind their teeth or clench their jaw. Most of the time, the person is unaware of the behavior because it can occur during sleep. However, some people grind their teeth or clench their jaw as a result of stress or anxiety. Unfortunately, neither your teeth nor jaw can handle the additional pressure.
Grinding your teeth can damage the shape and structure of your teeth. The shape of your teeth performs very particular tasks. For example, the ridges on your molars help to grind your food into smaller pieces. Without them, it would be harder to break down your food. Consequently, it would be more difficult for you to digest your food. When you grind your teeth, it adds excess stress to your teeth, which can cause breakage. Chipped and fractured teeth are common among patients who grind their teeth.
Over time, you will lose the shape of your teeth and their ability to perform their tasks. Your dentist may recommend a custom mouthguard in order to protect your teeth. For example, you would wear it at night to keep your teeth from grating against each other. This will help cushion your teeth and reduce damage to your enamel.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, or TMJ, is a condition where your jaw joint doesn’t function correctly. Whether it is due to wear and tear or an imbalance, the joint doesn’t move properly. The jaw joint is responsible for opening and closing your mouth, essentially, a hinging motion. If it is damaged, it makes it difficult for you to eat or speak.
Mild cases of TMJ cause a popping or clicking sound when you open or close your mouth. You may not feel any pain, but you do hear or feel the popping sensation. However, more advanced cases of TMJ can cause painful feelings in the face or ear. It can cause chronic headaches. Additionally, TMJ can cause your jaw to “lock” or freeze in place.
Because your jaw and muscles do not work together, you can develop an imbalance in your bite pattern. Over time, this can lead to worn teeth because your teeth do not line up correctly.
It is possible that you have no additional external forces working on wearing down your teeth other than time itself. As you age, you “put a lot of miles” on your teeth. Much like waves eroding a rocky cliff over time, your teeth will erode away too. Some people naturally have thicker enamel than others. This means that age may not be a factor for their worn teeth. However, time can be the primary influence on your worn teeth.