Do you suffer with frequent headaches or migraines? Frequent headaches affect nearly 50 million Americans. And while many sufferers search for a solution, many fail to connect the dots between these headaches and their dental anatomy.
Amazingly, the position of how our upper and lower teeth meet is a typical cause for headaches, jaw pain, sore muscles, neck and back pain, limited range of motion of the neck, poor posture, stuffy and ringing ears, grinding and breaking teeth, dizziness, fatigue and more. All of these symptoms can be due to one’s bite being off, perhaps by only a millimeter (1/25th of an inch).
Your dental make-up is an intricate composition of muscles, joints and teeth and plays a major role in your overall comfort and health. Because humans are incredibly adaptable, the body’s muscles, bones and joints can function although these are not in ideal alignment. This is as true with the bite as with other parts of the body, such as when one leg is shorter than the other. However, there are times when the body cannot adapt, which is just as true with dental problems.
Neuromuscular Dentistry is a modern advancement based on the understanding that the temporo-mandibular joints (TMJ) need to be in a comfortable resting position for the ultimate comfort of the joints, muscles, bones and teeth. When this occurs, all structures work together harmoniously.
The levelness of the teeth is just as critical. The forces of the bite must be distributed down the long axis of the body (see illustration). If the bite is tilted, then the forces will be misdirected. This can cause as much of a problem for a patient as if the hips are not level.
With Neuromuscular Dentistry, dentists who understand its impact and how to incorporate it into restorative and esthetic treatment help patients avoid problems down the road or correct those they may have been dealing with for years. Symptoms not normally associated with what people consider a dental problem can occur, such as:
- One of our patients was unable to close his eyes without falling for 27 years. This was resolved immediately when his bite was properly aligned.
- Another patient couldn’t turn his head to the left due to neck pain regained full range of motion once his bite was restored properly.
- A patient who required massive amounts of pain pills for neck and back pain and headaches stopped taking them once his bite was restored.
As mentioned earlier, humans adjust to flaws. Yet, having flaws for years confuses the body’s perception of comfort over time. Unexplained pain is often attributed to other aspects of the patient’s life, such as stress, hormones or posture. They are given drugs or sent for therapy to deal with “non-dental” problems. Some are told it’s all in their head.
Today, advancements in computer technology enable Dentists trained in Neuromuscular Dentistry to capture information for more effective treatment. It also gives visual ‘proof’ of treatment requirements so patients accept the authenticity of the diagnosis. Throughout treatment, patients can monitor their progress by comparing their before-&-after data.
We’ve seen patients who’ve experience years of migraines, simply because of one crown being too high. It’s amazing what a delicate balance there is in the mouth when it comes to the muscles, joints, bones and teeth working together.