30% of back pain is said to be dental in origin, but if this back pain occurs at night or in the morning upon awakening, this percentage increases to 80%. An imbalance of the jaw is therefore very often the cause of back, neck or lumbar pain, and conversely, a postural imbalance can cause the jaw to shift.
Osteopathy in first intention
It is therefore very important, in the case of postural pain, to see an osteopath first and ask him if he detects a dental cause in his diagnosis. If this is the case, you should also go to a dentist who is familiar with occlusion problems and who can work closely with your osteopath.
Dental malocclusion and discomfort
Jaw balance problems, called malocclusion, can be associated with joint problems in the temporomandibular joints. This can cause jaw cracking, limited mouth opening, ear pain, tinnitus, dizziness, dry mouth, or migraines. Many patients with these symptoms, combined with great fatigue and a loss of morale due to the chronicity of these symptoms, are suspected of psychosomatic illnesses and are put on antidepressants. To function properly, the body must have a relatively symmetrical architecture. The two eyes must be horizontal, as well as the shoulders, the pelvis, the knees: all of these must be at the same level on the right and left sides.
Malocclusion and postural imbalance
When a person has one leg shorter than the other it has consequences even in the jaw, but an unbalanced jaw can also cause a false short leg. This is because muscles attached to the mandible are directly connected to the spine and the shoulder girdle. If the jaw is not centred in the axis of the body, a whole pattern of adaptation takes place, from the mandible to the soles of the feet. If the mandible deviates to the left, the right shoulder and scapula move upwards, cervical rotation to the left is restricted, the right arm weakens, the pelvis moves upwards on the left side, anterior flexion of the trunk is limited, balance on the left foot is weakened.
Dentist and osteopath, a close collaboration
This type of pathology often requires a complementary and alternating intervention of an osteopath with a dentist. It is always better for the osteopath to start working first to remove all the compensatory lesions, but often, he is limited in his actions and the dentist has to put a guard between the teeth, avoiding contact between the upper and lower teeth. This will allow the osteopath to lift tensions much more easily because the tray neutralizes the dental imbalance. The dentist must be trained in occlusodontics and must understand the interaction with the osteopath.
Occlusodontics : a specialty
The dental diagnosis should not be oriented only towards caries. It must study the displacement of the teeth, the displacement of the jaw, a possible clenching of teeth or bruxism and it must study how the tongue and swallowing works. This dental specialty is called occlusodontics. Its goal is to correct the bad positions of the teeth and jaws in order to optimize the dental occlusion, i.e. the way the upper teeth fit together with the lower teeth.
Dental Occlusion After Care
When you have dental work done, all dental work and restorations must be carefully adjusted. The dentist, after reconstructing the tooth, must test how the tooth functions in a static position and in a dynamic position so as not to interfere with the position of the mandible. During treatment, you should always report to your dentist any discomfort, extra thickness, or feeling of emptiness after a dental treatment. Don’t think that you will get used to it; otherwise, your body and your mandible will compensate, causing all the pain we talked about before.
Replace your missing teeth
Also, when a tooth has been extracted, the tooth must be replaced quickly, either with an appliance, a bridge or an implant, so that the balance and stability of the mandible is preserved. Teeth move very quickly when they are no longer positioned next to each other. The back teeth lie forward, and the front teeth move up or down into the opposite hole left by the missing tooth. These movements are done micron by micron and cause major imbalances that are sometimes irreversible.
Test your oral imbalance
You can already do an initial test to see if your mouth is affecting your postural pain. By observing the way you open your mouth, do you feel pain in the joints, cracking, or a limitation of the mouth opening? When you open your mouth, does your jaw deviate to one side or the other? You can also observe the height of your pelvis, if the crests of the pelvis are at the same height on the right and on the left? Similarly, at the level of your shoulders, look at yourself in a mirror to see if your shoulders are at the same height. When you swallow your saliva, is your tongue pressed against your teeth or does it stand normally at the roof of your mouth?
As I mentioned earlier, the appearance or aggravation of postural pain (neck, back, lumbar, etc.) at night or in the morning when you wake up should make you think of a dental cause, and more precisely of an imbalance in your dental occlusion. You must absolutely call a dentist who is trained in occlusodontics and who works in parallel with an osteopath. The trio you will form with these 2 practitioners is the key to success and your return to health.
This global approach is extremely interesting for athletes who see their performance and their risk of tendon injuries greatly improved thanks to a balance of their occlusion and their posture.
Back pain and teeth pain by Dr Catherine Rossi, Holistic Dentist, Paris