For patients with properly aligned teeth who don’t abuse them by chewing on hard objects or clenching or grinding them, it can be a mystery why they experience the headaches, neck pain, and achy jaw associated with TMJ disorder. Waking up in such discomfort every morning is disconcerting and patients suffering from it may be surprised to realize the link between poor posture and TMJ disorder.
TMJ disorder explained
When jaw joints don’t function as they should and cause pain and stress in surrounding tissues, nerves and muscles of the head, neck and face, it’s called TMJ disorder. The TMJs (temporomandibular joints) attach the lower jaw to the skull in front of the ears. Without TMJs, people couldn’t move their mouths to speak, eat, yawn, chew, etc. Those who suffer TMJ disorder can experience various symptoms including:
- Popping, locking or clicking jaws
- Pain in the ears, neck, shoulders, back and jaw
- Biting difficulty
- Swelling in the face
- Ear issues such as ringing and dizziness
Bad posture and TMJ disorder
For the body to function at optimal performance, all of its bones, muscles and joints need to be in proper alignment. If someone slouches in their chair or hunches over a computer regularly, their body can become retrained to maintain an improper position. Poor posture can lead to a misaligned spine, which causes the lower jaw to protrude forward and have an improper bite. An improper bite is one of the main causes of TMJ disorder so it’s important to avoid the domino effect bad posture can cause.
Treating TMJ disorder from bad posture
Sitting and standing straight to correct poor posture is the first step toward treating TMJ disorder caused by bad posture. By practicing correct posture, the entire body realigns properly and the jaw will stop protruding. Proper posture while standing means keeping chest forward, shoulders back and lengthening the spine to avoid jutting the chin forward. Sitting with good posture involves keeping the body in a similar posture as standing and pressing into the back of the chair to distribute weight evenly on hips. Knees need to be at or above hip level while sitting and if they’re not, people need to elevate them with a footstool or something similar. Another way to improve posture is by wearing supportive, comfortable footwear and adding arch supports or insoles to shoes. Physical therapy, yoga, massage and Pilates can help release muscle tension and retrain the spine into proper alignment and an experienced dentist can help patients get their bite back into proper alignment.
Creative Dental offers TMJ therapy for those suffering from the disorder and we’ll work with you to find the best treatment for your condition. We know how beneficial it is to have your oral and overall health aligned properly.