The effect of oral health on our entire body’s health has been a hot topic of conversation in medical circles. The conversation surrounding this topic has been heated, but there are some things that are hard to refute. The jump from abscess to blood infection is fairly easy to understand, given the blood vessels that run through your gumline and teeth. A more controversial concept is the effect of poor oral health on the posture of patients. Surprising as it may sound, studies indicate that an imperfect bite, known as malocclusion, can have distinct impacts on your posture.
How Does My Oral Health Affect My Posture?
Ongoing research has revealed a few critical points about how our head is constructed and supported and how it ties into our posture. When trying to understand the importance of our oral health in maintaining our posture, consider the following facts:
- Your head is approximately 8-10lbs, about the weight of a good-sized watermelon
- Our head is situated atop the topmost cervical vertebrae
- Carrying this weight efficiently is critical to our posture
Our bodies take advantage of biomechanical leverage involving our neck muscles, skull muscles, muscles in the temporomandibular joint, and those used for swallowing. Understanding the processes that are used to maintain our head’s position will help us understand the role our oral health plays. While “To date, no study has examined the association between malocclusion, body posture, and breathing pattern.” correlations between body posture and impaired breathing indicate a likely link.
The Role Of Our Jaw In The Support Of Our Posture And Head
The earliest concept of how our head was held in place involved the muscles of our neck. While an understandable conceit, it would prove to be an oversimplification of the actual processes involved. Surprisingly the most used muscles in properly balancing our head atop the cervical vertebrae are those of the jaw, not the muscles of the neck. The details of the relationship are complex, but suffice to say that the way force is distributed between the TMJ, neck muscles, teeth, and throat is critical to maintaining your head’s natural position. When this concept began to be confirmed through repeated tests and studies, the way medicine approached dental and posture concerns changed significantly.
How Posture Changes When Your Dental Health Fails
One study found that there was “there was a significant association between the sagittal position of the mandible (SNB angle) and a kyphotic posture;”. Simply put, in a healthy body with good oral health, the head is held upright and prominent atop our neck. Our back is curved appropriately to provide the necessary support, and everything is in place. If our dental health starts to degrade, there can be a lasting effect on our posture and whole-body health. While the health of your teeth and gums do play a role in a failing posture, more concern should be placed on concerns circulating around your temporomandibular joint.
As these elements start to fail, you may begin to experience a gradually increasing forward hunch over time. It’s important that you speak to your dental and medical professionals about these concerns to see what you can do to prevent the long term degrading of your posture.