Treating Headaches and Neck Pain with Bite Correction
- Posted on: Nov 20 2015
The human anatomy is a marvel to behold. It is composed of various systems, layers of skin and bone, and somehow manages to keep them intact and make everything seamlessly connect with one another. Because of the mutual relationship they share, people are able to achieve simple tasks. People must remember this – especially when they feel ill – because it is possible that the problematic area may not lie in the location where the pain is felt.
The first impulse to treat aches and pains in the head and neck may be massage or medication. These remedies can result in temporary relief but will not likely address the root causes of the pain. Very rarely do people consider having their jaws checked whenever they feel these discomforts, because they always associate this area with their teeth. However, dental researchers have discovered that a percentage of head and neck aches are actually caused by their jaws and bites.
When can the jaw or bite be an underlying cause of neck pain and headaches?
It’s easy to forget that many different muscles are working together for simple tasks like talking and chewing. If these muscles are strained from a misaligned bite or malocclusion it can be difficult for the jaw to repeatedly open and close. It is also possible that the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) – which is the joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull – is worn or damaged.
Those with TMJ disorder often report the symptoms below:
- “Tired” or sore jaw muscles
- Grinding of teeth
- A clicking or popping sound when yawning
- Ringing in the ears
- Pain in the neck, shoulders, and back
- Pain behind the eyes
- Difficulty chewing and biting
- Facial pain
- Reduced range when closing and opening of the mouth
The Benefits of Bite Correction
Bite correction (also known as Occlusal Equilibration) is the process where a person’s jaw or teeth are reshaped and re-contoured to create the ideal “minimum-stress” bite. By leaving enough room for the jaw to operate, the patient can experience fewer headaches, neck pains, and muscle tensions around this particular area of the face.
Types of Bite Correction Procedures
The bite can be corrected through surgical and non-surgical procedures, and depending on the severity of the patient’s condition the dentist may resort to using one of any of these procedures.
Dental Reconstruction and Replacement
The goal of this process is to give patients perfect and healthy teeth. Dentists will need to repair existing dental work that has been damaged or worn out over time, and reconstruct those that have experienced cracks or large cavities.
Dental braces and orthodontic retainers are just some of the most common types of dentalware which orthodontists use to correct a person’s bite. However, the overall process can take between 12 to 24 months. This type of procedure is most effective with younger patients because the jaw is still developing.
A night guard is a custom-made plastic dental device which is fitted over the top or bottom of the teeth. They are usually worn during the evening and helps reduce the damages that are caused by severe teeth grinding.
Tooth reshaping is the preferred and most effective treatment for bite correction. It is typically used when the patient’s teeth are not touching perfectly, even though they may appear to be aligned. Dentists will ask the patient to bite into a piece of coated paper, which reveals the problematic area when the bite is released.
Also known as a maxillary osteotomy, this surgery is done inside of the patient’s mouth. The surgeon will begin by cutting the bone above the teeth so that the entire upper jaw can be moved as one unit. It is then moved forward until it has reached perfect alignment with the lower teeth. Tiny screws and plates are then placed to hold the bone in its new position. This procedure can be performed to correct these following bite/jaw issues:
- Open bite
- Uneven number of teeth showing
- Receded upper jaw
Surgeons will cut behind the molars and down the jawbone (lengthwise) until the front of the jaw can be maneuvered as one unit. It is then moved smoothly into the new position and held together by screws until it heals.
A deficient chin is sometimes caused by a severely receded lower jaw. Surgeons will fix the problem by performing genioplasty. Genioplasty is the process wherein surgeons will cut the patient’s chin bone to secure a new position. Typically this procedure will also give the surgeons an opportunity to restructure the whole jaw.
Remember that smile care extends beyond brushing, flossing, and whitening, and that oral health can be linked to a number of issues “outside the mouth” such as headaches and neck pain. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms overviewed in this article we recommend speaking to a professional cosmetic dentist about bite alignment or correction.