Its 4:29am. Even before the alarm is about to strike at its routine time, Ashita is wide awake. She didn't need the alarm to wake her up anymore. She hurriedly jumps off the bed, goes for a quick brush, before heading back into her study room, where she has locked her up since almost 2 months, studying for her board exams.

As soon she opens her mouth for her brush to do its work, she feels a strong, muscle ache running down her ears all the way to her jaws. It was there every morning, but today was bad. really bad. The pain was so excruciating that she couldn't open her mouth properly. In whichever way possible, she quickly cleaned up her teeth and rushed back to her study room. Her hunger pang stops her right before she enters her study. She hasn't been eating well, all thanks to dedicating most of her time to her books and upcoming exams. She takes a quick detour to the kitchen, grabs a left over dominos pizza, a bag of chips and a cola to quickly kill off the hunger. After all, the study was way more important for her. She had to score well, perform better than everybody else and prove herself to her parents, living in a neighboring city.

Ashita is like hundreds of other teenagers, looking to strive well for their exams, their future and competing like there is no tomorrow. The strive for excellence brings about a lot of unsuitable lifestyle changes. The number one effect of this is stress, and it is this stress that was mentally and physically damaging Ashita's health. The fact that she remained awake most of the night was because of the stress to perform well. The fact that she had a terrible jaw ache was because she clenched and grinded her teeth all night, because of stress. The fact that she wanted to waste no time in cooking, ordering or eating healthy fiber rich food, she fed herself with unhealthy chips & refined flour which sticks onto teeth, causing teeth decay. Cola drinks also contribute to decayed teeth because of their acidic and corrosive nature.

Teeth clenching or grinding, either consciously or sub consciously can lead to teeth chipping, teeth surface flattening and eventual inability to chew food properly. If this is supplemented by high acidic drinks and a poor diet, it aggravates the already detiorating situation.

In such situations, a night/ mouth guard needs to be made. This plastic, clear acrylic sheet is custom made and when put inside the mouth, it rests on teeth, thereby reducing damage occurring due to teeth clench. Hence the name 'habit breaker'.

At iSmyle Dental Centre, where I have been practicing dentistry since the last 8 years, I have come across a lot of young adults heavily clenching their teeth and almost always been on a poor diet. As an adult, it is my job, and yours, if you are reading this, to take care of your teeth before it gets too late. Getting to the root cause, stress here, is important to solve, but let not your body get damaged in the process. Let not STRESS take away your smile!

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