Unbalanced bite can be a pain in the neck
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders are a group of conditions that cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement. There are a number of symptoms associated with TMJ disorders that range from an annoying ache to a searing pain.
While there are a wide variety symptoms, the primary cause of TMJ is a unbalanced jaw or bite. TMJ disorders occur when your upper and lower teeth align in a way that is uncomfortable for your jaw.
Pain in your jaw, face, neck, back or shoulders is often the result.
Many TMJ sufferers experience
migraines and headaches. When your teeth are misaligned, it puts a strain on the muscles in your jaw, face, head and neck which, in turn, stresses the nerves that runs through them. Tired muscles cause TMJ aches and compressed nerves cause the pain.
Since your whole body is composed of muscles, nerves, bones and joints that are all connected, the pain and strain can extend downward to your neck, shoulders and back. Some people experience a tingling or numbness in the fingers, hand or arm.
What causes the imbalance?
The more obvious indications of a misaligned bite are an underbite, overbite or cross bite. When the top teeth extend out further than the bottom teeth, this is called an over-bite. Likewise, when the bottom teeth protrude further out than the top teeth, this is referred to as an under-bit. When one or more teeth shifts more inward toward the tongue or more outward toward the cheek as compared with the teeth above it, this is known as a cross bite.
TMJ does not have to result from misaligned teeth. There are some instances where the teeth appear to align evenly with each other, but the muscles and joints are still in an uncomfortable position relative to the jaw. TMJ could also result from poorly restored teeth, missing teeth, thumb sucking, certain types of trauma to the jaw and habits developed during childhood.
During childhood, the tongue is used in the development of your jaw. The tongue, in its natural position, exerts force on the upper arch of your mouth to assist in jaw development. When this force is not present, the jaw will not grow to its potential. Also allergies and other conditions that cause a child to breathe through the mouth can cause a misaligned jaw because the tongue is forced downward, rather than upward, to allow air to enter.
An misaligned bite can throw your whole body off
Your unbalanced, or misaligned bite may cause excessive wear and tear on your teeth changing your facial appearance as the space between your teeth diminishes. The jowls, premature wrinkles, and creases that an unbalanced bite causes to form at the sides of your nose and mouth are not physically painful, but are distressing nonetheless.
You may begin to hunch your shoulders or slide your head forward in an attempt to compensate for the pain, causing postural problems. These types of changes to your facial appearance and body posturing may not be immediately noticeable by you since they occur over time as your body tries to adjust.
Balance out your bite
Dr. Ben Polan is a TMJ dentist in Beverly who specializes in neuromuscular dentistry to treat TMJ disorders. Rather than focus on just your joints and teeth as is done with the traditional dentistry, Dr. Polan recognizes the relationship between your bite, your jaw and the muscles in your body. He focuses his efforts on the health of your posture, your range of motion and your muscular functions.
Dr Polan will determine the correct posturing for your jaw and then use various types of restorative procedures, such as crowns bridges or orthodontics to restructure your teeth in a way that brings your bite into alignment with your jaw.