Your Bite And Your Neck: How Are They Related?
Updated: Sep 20, 2022
Many patients with the diagnosis of TMJ (Temporal Mandibular Joint Dysfunction) or TMD have symptoms directly related to the head, such as headache, migraine, neck pain, shoulder pain, etc... with the potential of structural issues all the way down to the feet.
The image posted here illustrates the relationship between the bite (what happens when the teeth come together) and the topmost vertebrae of the neck, which sit right below and influence the position and posture of the head. When the bite is not exactly right, the physical force of the miss-alignment has a point in the neck that will influence the alignment of the rest of the spine. The top vertebrae will compensate due to the aberrant force on the bones, and the rest of the spinal column will compensate for its posture to keep the head straight and aligned with the horizon. This leads to the symptoms and pain related to the TMJ/TMD diagnosis.
When we align the bite while working with specialized dental professionals and simultaneously precisely align the upper neck and the rest of the spine, the TMJ/TMD symptoms will change and improve/decrease.
Our precise alignment method for the top-most vertebrae is Atlas Orthogonal, Cranial Manipulation for the bones of the skull, and various other techniques to release the segmental spinal issues and soft tissue up and down the spine.
Here’s another image that may help explain the connection between the bite and the neck and the rest of the spinal alignment. The figure on the left with the green shows an optimal balance between the head, shoulders, and spine. Dead Center! As the head is held forward due to many things, “Text Neck,” constant computer usage, an unknown need for a different eyeglass prescription while using a computer, neck pain from a car accident, or, as mentioned earlier this week, an imbalanced bite, (called a mal-occlusion in the dental world). All these things will cause compensation in the neck to keep the head and eyes straight with the horizon and the airway open so you can breathe.
The structural adaptations happen in the background or automatically without thought. Before you know it, the normal neck curve is lost or reversed, and the head is carried forward, putting structural stress on the neck and muscles of the neck, shoulder, and mid-back. This results in further changes to the bite and increased TMJ/TMD complaints.
As I mentioned before, the way we handle this issue is to align the top-most vertebrae via a technique called Atlas Orthogonal, with Cranial Manipulation for the bones of the skull and various other techniques to release the segmental spinal issues and soft tissue up and down the spine. We also work alongside specialized dental professionals to ensure the bite is optimal for a person's spinal posture.