Tooth grinding is a bad habit to have, but it's often one that people don't have much control over. Unfortunately, tooth grinding regularly can damage your teeth and actually change the way that you look to others, beyond the appearance of your smile. If you've noticed that your jawline seems to be less defined lately despite a lack of change in your diet or weight, then it may be your regular tooth grinding that's to blame.
When You Grind
When you grind your teeth, you do damage to them. It's like rubbing two diamonds together: your teeth are of equal hardness with each other, so they damage each other. Unfortunately, tooth enamel is very strong, so it can do a lot of damage in this scenario, all while taking damage. If this happens for long enough, you can completely wear away your enamel and start to break down the softer tissues of the teeth that are normally hidden away.
If you grind your teeth for long enough, you'll eventually start to shorten your teeth. Teeth can become noticeably shorter from teeth grinding just because of the wear and tear that occurs.
When this happens, it changes the way that your jaw looks. This is because your jaw normally rests based upon where your teeth come together. If your teeth are shorter, your jaw has to move further inwards in order to come to a complete rest, which makes the bone look less defined. The good news is, there's actually nothing wrong with your jawbone — you just need some help with your teeth.
There are two main things that a dentist can do for you when you find yourself in this scenario.
The first is to repair the damage to your teeth. This may take multiple appointments if all of your teeth are damaged by tooth grinding, but the good news is that the damage can be reversed by utilizing crowns or fillings.
The solution your dentist employs will depend upon how bad the damage to your teeth is. If it's severe, crowns may be necessary to help protect the inner soft tissues of your teeth. If it's not too bad, they can simply use fillings to help extend the length of the tooth back to where it once was and to help protect those softer tissues from being exposed.
The second thing your dentist will do for you is to make a custom grinding guard for you. You can wear this during the day when you're having a particularly hard time giving up grinding, but they're especially useful for nighttime. Since you have no control over whether you're grinding your teeth in your sleep, this can save you a lot of damage over time.