Jackie Burchill had always been fastidious about looking after her teeth, visiting the dentist every six months as well as being meticulous about brushing and flossing.
Yet despite this, the 69-year-old IT specialist from Shrewsbury, Shropshire, had endured years of dental problems including toothache and snapped, chipped or loose teeth. The final straw came when she lost a tooth when chewing on a lettuce leaf. With her dentist of 25 years unable to pinpoint the problem, she decided to move to a different practice.
Her new dentist had to replace six of her teeth with implants, as well as fitting ten crowns. He also identified the cause of all her dental woes: teeth grinding.
'I knew I was a teeth grinder because I would wake myself up doing it at times,' Burchill says. 'I'd mentioned it to my dentist, but he never made the link with my dental problems. I've spent a fortune getting my teeth in some kind of shape and now wear a mouthguard every night.'
Teeth grinding - or bruxism - is an extremely common problem, with as many as 10 per cent of the population suffering from it at some time. Although it affects most people at night, it can also occur throughout the day. No one knows exactly what triggers bruxism. One theory is that it is caused by bite problems (called malocclusion) - when the teeth are poorly aligned or don't come together when you close your jaw.