Neck Pain and TMD
If you have been suffering from unexplained neck pain, you might have a misaligned bite -- TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder). When your upper and lower teeth come together incorrectly, there is chronic stress on the jaw joints and jaw muscles. Inflammation will gradually set in and you have a strong potential for pain in the entire head and shoulders area.
Neck Area Nerves
There are motor nerves that carry commands from the brain to muscles; and there are sensory nerves that carry messages of sensation back to the brain from all body structures. When we feel pain, it is because a sensory nerve has been somehow hurt and has sent a pain message to the brain.
There are several large nerves (called cranial nerves) that run from the brain and branch out over the face, jaw, and neck. One is the very large trigeminal nerve (so named for its three large branches), which is both motor and sensory. Another is the vagus nerve (named from the Latin vagus meaning “wandering” – think of vague and vagrant – because it travels to so many places). It is 90 percent sensory in function. And there are others.
When a branch of any of these nerves is compressed by inflammation, it sends a pain message to the brain. Other branches of the same nerve may also pick up that pain and send pain messages, so inflammation does not have to occur in the neck for you to feel pain there.
Posture and Flexibility Affected
Two of the common symptoms of TMD are a clenched jaw and bruxism (teeth grinding). When tension is chronic in the face and neck area, the head tends to jut forward, throwing the person’s erect posture off.
That tension also reduces upper body flexibility and response time. This is part of why the Pure Power Mouthguard (PPM) works so well for sports participants – by holding the jaw in a correct position, it relaxes the neck and shoulders, increasing blood flow and muscle response time, and giving the person more of a competitive edge.
But even if you are not a sports player, poor posture is tiring and uncomfortable. Correct alignment of the jaw joints will spread greater health and comfort to the neck and shoulders by relaxing the muscles and allowing them to assume their natural positions.
If you are wondering whether your discomfort or pain could be stemming from TMD, please contact our dental office today. We will be happy to schedule a personal consultation for you to learn more about TMD and how it might be affecting you. We serve the St. Louis, Missouri area and we look forward to working with you.
8083 Manchester Rd.
St. Louis, MO 63144