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Night grinder

For some people, chronic grinding of their teeth causes major problems. Some patients are completely unaware that they clench or grind their teeth until a check-up shows damage, says Dr Peter Alldritt of the Australian Dental Association. "Sharp teeth like canine teeth may have worn flat, crack lines may be appearing in the enamel, or fillings may be starting to crack and break."

Teeth grinding medically known as bruxism can use facial pain, too. "People can wake up with a sore face or a bad headache because the muscle in the face have been activated all night while they have been clenching," he says. The ligament of the jaw joint just in front of the ear can also become very tender.

Teeth with legs

If you grind during sleep, a dentist can fit you with a night guard, says Alldritt. "It's a barrier separating the upper and lower teeth so they can't come together and cause further damage."

Beat the daily grind

First you must realize what you're doing, says Alldritt. Unless you are eating, "there should always be a small gap between your upper and lower teeth."

Acute episodes of grinding are usually driven by stress, so practice relaxation and focus on your jaw. "When sitting at your desk, touch the side of your cheek, gently clench your teeth, feel the muscle contract and then relax," says Alldritt. Repeat the exercise 2-3 times at intervals throughout the day.