People are more sedentary than ever. We now spend hours hunched over a computer for work with little to no regard for how it will affect our posture long-term. To make matters worse, we spend an inordinate amount of time looking down at phones throughout the day, only exacerbating the problem further and often leading to an unsightly hunch. What few people realize is that technology isn't the only culprit. The jaw affects head posture as well, especially when a person experiences temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).
What Is TMD?
The temporomandibular joint is the point of contact between the mandible (jaw bone) and the skull's temporal bone. This location is critical because of the amount of activity the joint faces on a day-to-day basis. Talking, chewing, swallowing, and yawning all require movement directly facilitated by this joint. If the TMJ is not operating at capacity (underdeveloped, inflamed, dislocated, damaged), it's called a dysfunction or TMD and can be responsible for a wide range of symptoms, including:
- TMJ clicking or popping
- Chronic pain
- Back and shoulder pain
- Poor posture
How Does TMD Impair Head Posture?
One of the most common causes of TMD is jaw underdevelopment. Because each part of the dental system is so intricately intertwined when the upper jaw is not fully developed, or the upper teeth are angled back into the mouth instead of forward, it forces the lower jaw to retrude. This retrusion imposes upon the tongue space, forcing the neck muscles to always be working (not relaxed at rest) to keep the tongue out of the throat space.
The body compensates to cope with the underdevelopment by moving the head to a more forward position. This forward head posture causes the muscle groups involved to pull on the neck and upper back, resulting in a roll to the shoulders. The human head weighs between 10-12 lbs and depending on how far forward your poor head posture is, it might feel like more, which only leads to increased problems.
TMD and TMJ Pain Treatment
Physiologic dentistry is an area of dentistry that focuses on guiding the jaw into its optimal position. Correcting jaw alignment and facilitating more effective function with Dr. Wallace can begin resolving jaw pain, discomfort, and issues with posture. The mouth and body work closer together than many give them credit for, which makes our approach to treatment more advanced and solution-focused than some other dental professionals.
Treat TMJ and Forward Head Posture in Beaufort, South Carolina
Physiologic dentistry could be the missing piece to improving sleep apnea, poor posture, aches, and pains.
If you're interested in finding out more and would like a consultation, call our offices at (843) 410-0345 or visit our contact form. Dr. Wallace and our team at Palmetto Smiles are here to help!
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