Our bodies are complex machines with systems that are interconnected while seeming to function independently of each other. As a result, we don’t often consider the potential repercussions health concerns in one area can have on another. When discussing the conditions that affect the human body and how to diagnose them, dentists and medical professionals take this connection into account. While the ways that different systems affect each other aren’t completely understood, research has revealed that dental concerns have far-reaching effects. Recent studies have shown that even our posture is not immune from the ravages of poor oral health.
What We Understand About This Link
The Medical Science Monitor has published a study that explores the relationship between poor oral health and poor posture. Based on the findings of the studies, the following elements may be at play between oral health and our posture:
- Our head can weigh as much as 10lbs and sits positioned at the highest point of our body. Proper positioning of the spine and head is essential to properly carry this weight.
- When movement is strained, our bodies will resist the pressure. The muscles of our jawbone and head are involved in helping us swallow, such as those of the temporomandibular joint.
- Ongoing studies have been showing a link, as yet not well understood, between body posture, malocclusion, and breathing patterns. As time goes on, more evidence of this link is being found.
One thing that was confirmed as part of this study is the role of the muscles of the jaw in maintaining the balance of the head. The relationship here is one that is deeply complex but involves the neck muscles, the temporomandibular joint, teeth, and throat in keeping the head properly balanced on the neck. Additionally, health concerns in the lumbar and thoracic regions of the back can play a role instead.
The long-term and day-to-day effects of this misalignment include greater sensitivity to exhaustion and poor balance. This impaired balance was found to be further impacted when patients with malocclusion resulting in poor posture were physically exhausted. The source of the exhaustion was determined to be the additional strain required to counter the effects of the poor posture resulting from the malocclusion. As research continues, the effects of malocclusion and the resulting poor posture are becoming better understood.
All that being said, how does the health of our teeth affect our ability to maintain good posture? While poorly aligned jaws can result in significant oral health complications, what effect do muscle strength and poor jaw alignment have on the back?
Poor Dental Health Directly Impacts Posture
Patients who are living with any form of malocclusion, including crossbite, underbite, or overbite, often experience pain as part of this misalignment of the jaw. Teeth that are out of alignment can also be a contributing factor due to the roots impact on the jawline. When both of these conditions are present, additional pressure will be placed along the jawline. This, in turn, can put pressure on the neck that pushes the head out of the alignment, causing the spine to compensate. In this way, our dental health, spinal curvature, and the position of our jawline are all interconnected. The mechanisms behind this connection are still under investigation.
Want to learn more about how this amazing machine we call our body works together to maintain good overall health? Reach out to your dental care provider to schedule a consultation and exam to go over your oral health. The concerns you face may be farther reaching than you imagined, and a treatment plan will be formed to help improve your oral and overall health.