At first glance, dentistry and chiropractic treatments seem to be worlds apart in terms of health care. What many people don’t realize is that tooth, mouth, and jaw pain often affect how we carry our ourselves, which can lead to stiff muscles and joints in the neck, shoulders, and back. As a result, patients may be seeing a chiropractor when they need to see a dentist, and vice versa. If you have had lingering pain, ask your treatment provider if they recommend working with a dentist or chiropractor to resolve your issues.
Your Jaw Can Cause Your Back Pain
The most common dental source of muscular pain is the jaw. A misaligned jaw can cause a patient problems with chewing, breathing, sleeping, and speech. As a result, patients with misaligned jaws often hold their head improperly, which can lead to muscle pain in the neck, back, and shoulders. Misaligned jaws may be a genetic problem that the patient has had since birth, or could be the result of an injury like a blow to the head or whiplash.
Patients whose jaw is properly aligned can still have mouth problems that lead to muscle pain. Clenching the jaw or grinding your teeth can put an extreme amount of stress on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Grinding and clenching can wreak havoc on the muscles in the neck and face, which can also cause associated muscle pain throughout the body.
Problems that stem from the TMJ or the muscles surrounding it are known as temporomandibular disorders, or TMDs. When a patient suffers from a TMD, the body must work extra hard to hold the jaws in their proper position.
Dentists and Chiropractors Can Provide Complementary Treatments
When a patient’s muscular pain is caused by an in issue in the jaw or mouth, dentists and chiropractors may need to work together to fix the problem. TMDs are serious issues and can cause irreversible damage to the teeth by wearing down the enamel, causing the teeth the break, or loosening existing dental work. A combination of both dentistry and chiropractic treatments may be just what a patient needs when this type of pain effects the entire body.
To correct a jaw misalignment, a dentist may fit the patient with an orthotic that can be worn over the teeth and will slowly bring the jaw into place. If the misalignment is severe, braces or other types of orthodontic work might be necessary to correct the issue.
If the TMD is not caused by a jaw misalignment, then excess stress or anxiety in a patient’s life is often to blame. To correct these types of TMDs, several types of treatments may be necessary. First, a dentist may prescribe a mouth guard to protect the teeth from grinding or clenching while the patient sleeps. Next, chiropractic treatments and massage therapy may help to loosen and relax the muscles in the patient’s face, jaw, and neck, which can lessen the severity of the symptoms. Finally, some dentists offer new treatments like Botox injections into the TMJ, which weaken the muscles in the jaw and prevent clenching and grinding.
While all of these treatments can be effective, the most important thing a person with a stress- or anxiety-induced TMD can do is to make lifestyle changes that reduce stress and learn coping mechanisms for anxiety which are less harmful to the teeth and jaw. Holistic and whole-body treatments are often key to reducing stress and damaging behaviors.
Collaborating for Your Health
If you have been experiencing unresolved pain in your jaw, neck, shoulders, or back, it may be time to consult with a different type of health care professional. At Anderson Dental in Royal Palm Beach, our dentists work with Dr. Matthew Symons at Palm Beach Health Center. Dr. Symons practices advanced chiropractic care which can reduce the symptoms of many TMDs, and also offers corrective exercises and lifestyle advice which help patients reduce their overall level of stress.
Tired of being in pain? Contact Anderson Dental in Royal Palm Beach by calling 561-333-4457 and schedule a dental consultation today. For chiropractic care, contact Dr. Symons at Palm Beach Health Center by calling 561-333-8353.