You’ve never experienced an injury or any form of trauma to the face—you would definitely remember it, right? So that rules that out. You don’t bite your nails, chew on the inside of your cheek or clench your teeth. You spent two years of high school with orthodontics, and as a result, your teeth and bite have fantastic alignment. So why is it you still suffer from jaw pain?
Traditional causes of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder don’t apply to your situation, and yet, you frequently experience neck and shoulder pain, facial pain and jaw muscle stiffness. The jaw joint and the system in which it operates is extremely complex. The muscles that attach to the joint and allow it to function properly are also connected to the temporal bones on either side of the head. They continue down to the front and back of the neck. For this reason, when all others fail, it’s possible that misalignment of the head and back is the root cause of your TMJ pain and discomfort. In other words, poor posture is a quiet, cunning culprit, because it’s a problem that few of us address.
How Posture Is Related to TMJ
The body is an intricate whole, and its proper function rests entirely on correct alignment. Unfortunately, many of us partake in activities that disrupt this alignment. A sedentary lifestyle—sitting at a desk in front of a computer for most of the week—is one example. It’s common for people to slouch, lean toward our computer screens or stare down at our phones. When we do this, our spine bends forward and everything else goes with it, including our head and chin. It’s the spine’s job to hold our head up which is a heavy eight pounds in weight. But the spine can only do its job if the head remains in a vertical line. Once it’s pushed forward, the surrounding muscles in the face and neck are forced to pick up the slack.
The fine and complex muscles of the temporomandibular joint were not intended to perform heavy lifting. So when these muscles are asked to bear the weight of our head, they ultimately go on strike. The result is facial pain and stiffness of the jaw area.
Treatment for TMJ Caused by Bad Posture
Bad posture can worsen existing TMJ disorder symptoms. When the head is out of alignment with the spine, the chin thrusts forward and knocks the jaw joint out of alignment as well. To reposition your bite, a dentist that focuses on TMJ treatment can create an oral splint to hold your mouth in its ideal position. The split relieves stress on the surrounding muscles in the face and allow them to relax, releasing tension and stiffness.
Dr. Nancy Nehawandian of Top Down Dental in San Jose/Los Gatos is trained in neuromuscular dentistry. She uses state-of-the-art electronic instruments to diagnose your TMJ disorder and non-invasive corrective TMJ treatments to eliminate your pain and other symptoms in our San Jose area office. Once the harmony and balance of your teeth, and jaw has been restored, your painful TMJ symptoms will simply fade away into a distant memory. Contact our office today, or call us at (408) 354-5600.