Talk about a bite
Talk about a bite
Dentist Dr Bill Kellner-Read tells of the consequences of a
How are your teeth? Over the last twenty-five years, I have been treating head, neck and back pain of dental origin. A little-known fact is that the teeth help to stabilise the neck and back.
We all know this from lifting a heavy object. The first thing that we do is grit our teeth together to lock and stabilise the body ready for lifting. Imagine that you have no teeth or the heightof the bite is wrong, then the lower jaw will keep on travelling until it hits something. Unfortunately, this rather haphazard arrangement is not conducive to good biomechanics and you end up with a stiff neck, frozen shoulder, Bell’s palsy or all of the above!
Loss of teeth can result in damage not only to the jaw joints but also the bones of the neck. It was researcher Casey Guzay, a physicist, who worked out the relationship between the jaw and the neck. He showed that, as the bite deteriorates due to tooth loss or unfavourable dental restorations, the neck suffers.
The bite no longer stabilises the neck and normal movements of the cervical spine are changed. This change brings with it a breakdown of the surfaces of the vertebrae leading to pain, suffering and perhaps arthritis.
But that’s not all. Lack of a proper bite can also cause tinnitus, dizziness, distorted vision, facial pain and other symptoms.
The head and shoulder pain is mostly muscular in origin.
With the poor bite, the muscles can no longer perform at their
normal working and resting lengths. The muscles are asked to do
a job that they weren’t designed for. The result, headaches plus
a sore stiff neck and shoulders. Often as we grow older the
headaches reduce, but the neck and shoulder pain persists.
We need to restore the bite to its former glory, or at least as near as is possible. Normalisation of the bite helps reduce the wear and tear between each bone, while also reducing pain in the neck and back.
Two stages to restore the bite
It may be important to rebuild the bite in two stages. While this is not always necessary, in more difficult cases it helps to rule out guesswork. I have used dental splints for many years in this context. They are relatively easy to construct and can be thrown away at the end of treatment.
These splints are
modified at each visit until the desired height and function
is obtained. Once this has been achieved, then permanent work
can be carried out. Many patients stay with splints and take the
treatment no further. For this reason, our laboratory is working
on hybrid appliances that are aesthetically more pleasing.
Talking of aesthetics, one of the problems with losing teeth is the change in facial appearance. Whether the teeth have gone or are just worn down, the cosmetic result is the same. Lines, wrinkles and a grumpy countenance! Restoring the heightof the bite often works as a non-surgical face lift, increasing muscle activity and smoothing out those lines. While I am looking to restore good function, the cosmetic result is not such a bad bi-product.
So if you are
suffering, head, neck and back pain, or simply just don’t
like the way you look, then find a dentist who can help you make
the changes that could change your life and bring joy back into
your life. Be blessed.