If we do something "teeth-gnashingly", it does not correspond to our ideas. Quite the opposite: we suppress our displeasure; do it unwillingly, reluctantly. Situations like this can trigger stress, which we literally process like this at night. When people grind their teeth, known as bruxism, they unconsciously press or rub their teeth together.
Waking up with a headache
In Switzerland, about a third of the population grinds their teeth while they sleep. This process can really take its toll on the teeth, as it can cause irreparable damage such as abraded chewing surfaces or cracks in the enamel. The constant pressure on the jaw muscles often leads to tension, which becomes noticeable in the morning in the form of headaches, neck pain and even shoulder pain. In certain cases, it even causes persistent ringing in the ears (tinnitus). Hour-long teeth grinding can cause dizziness or migraines as well as problems with the eyes.
Mouth guards and relaxation exercises help
Mouth guards made by dental technicians - also called relaxation or Michigan guards - can help against grinding. These are prosthesis-like plastic supports that protect the teeth and have a pain-relieving effect.
Physiotherapy can also help relieve tension in the muscles or jaw joint. Stretching and loosening exercises are the main ways to relieve tension and relax the muscle. For example, you can open your mouth wide several times a day and stretch the muscles, or you can loosen the muscles with a self-massage.
Getting to the bottom of the causes
Ultimately, this is only a symptom treatment. In order to find the underlying cause of bruxism, one has to deal with the stress factors and find out which methods are the best to cope with them. In most cases, simple relaxation techniques such as yoga, tai chi, autogenic training or progressive muscle relaxation can help. If the symptoms become more severe, psychological treatment may also be useful.
What about me?
If you want to find out whether you grind your teeth at night, you can have your teeth checked by a dentist. Those who have headaches and a tense neck should also check whether the pain could come from grinding.
Up to 600 francs a year for relaxation and well-being
SWICA covers 300 francs a year from your COMPLETA PRAEVENTA supplementary plan and an additional 300 francs a year from your OPTIMA supplementary plan for relaxation and well-being activities: swica.ch/wellbeing.
Cost sharing for mouth guards
With the DENTA supplementary plan, SWICA covers part of the costs of mouth guards: swica.ch/denta.