If your knee is injured, you limp to compensate. Limping often leads to pain in other joints, such as the hip or ankles or in other muscles of the legs. Over time, it might lead to back pain also. This is a concept that most of us can understand. Having one part of our body out of alignment affects other areas of our body. Cervical compression as a result of a bad bite is a similar concept; however we may not as quickly recognize a connection between our teeth and the health of our spine.
Where your top and bottom teeth touch when you close your jaw is referred to in dentistry as your bite, or technically, occlusion. When your teeth and jaw do not align properly, it is called malocclusion.
How Malocclusion Relates to Cervical Compression?
First, answer a few questions.
- Do you sometimes have pain in the back of the head, and, or neck?
- How is your posture?
- Have someone take a profile photo of you standing up so the view contains both your head and your feet. Do you have a forward head posture, or is your ear line up right above your shoulder?
- Can you hear a popping or clicking in your jaw when you open wide and close?
- Do you have pain above your eye brow on your fore head or in your temple areas?
- Do you have frequent headaches or chronic headaches?
Ideally, our heads should be in alignment from our heels all the way through our shoulder up through the middle of the ears. There are muscles in your head and neck that help to keep the head balanced upon your spinal column. When the head is placed forward, the muscles on the back of the neck have to work harder to keep the head from falling even more forward. This puts extra muscle tension on the muscles of the back of the neck and they become sore, just like any muscle that is overworked.
When your teeth are not aligned properly, it can cause tension in the jaw, which can lead to tightening of the muscles in the neck and shoulders. This tightening often causes us to shift our heads to be positioned forward of proper alignment. Allowing our heads to fall forward can lead to a host of problems throughout our back, even into the legs and feet. One problem that can result from this sort of poor posture is cervical compression. Cervical compression occurs when pressure is put on the spinal cord in the neck area.
- A forward head posture forces you to tilt your head back so you can see the horizon
- This tilting of the head changes the natural curve of the cervical spine (the neck)
- This tilting of the head can result in pinching of the nerves and blood vessels in the upper most vertebrae of the neck.
- The pinched nerves cause referred pain to the face and head
- A poor bite reinforces the forward head posture.
- When correcting the bite a dentist should “build a new bite so as to reinforce good, not bad posture.
When we perform your comprehensive exam our team will discuss with you any problems you may be having so we can help you determine if a problem you are having is related to your bite. We will recommend exercises to help improve your posture as well as help you correct any malocclusion (bad bite) that you may have. We call this approach Neuromuscular Dentistry, and it may involve several painless diagnostic tests to help us determine is your situation is actually related to your teeth or to some other cause. Please feel free to call us for more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss your problem with Grove City, Ohio dentist, Dr. Sheridan.