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How Posture Affects Oral Health

Posture is a cause for concern for many in the medical field as people spend more and more time looking down at mobile devices, hunched over laptops or sitting at computers at work day after day. Medical professionals agree that poor posture can put a strain on the entire body, but many people are surprised to find out it can also have a negative effect on their smile.

How Can Posture Affect Your Oral Health?

The human jaw is connected to the skull and teeth along with nerves, muscles, ligaments, discs, bones and more. Using complex movements, the jaw opens, closes, chews and even moves side-to-side. When you look at it as part of a complicated system that affects the head, neck and spine, you can see how posture would play a key role in its function.

"When you slouch, you push your lower jaw forward, and this puts pressure on the spine," said Dr. David Buck, DDS, of Balance Epigenetic Orthodontics. At his practice, total body posture is a core element in the treatment process of everything from TMJ disorders to orthodontic issues.

Poor posture can cause the bite to become misaligned, which means the teeth don’t fit together as they should. The jaw then tries to compensate when bringing them together. Not only can this cause damage to the jaw, but also to the teeth themselves, Buck said.

"By correcting your posture, the function of your entire body changes," he said. "Everything from breathing to balancing becomes easier when your body returns to its ideal state of symmetry."

Signs of Poor Posture 

The longer bad posture habits continue, the harder they are to correct. Some common signs of poor posture include headaches, pain or tenderness in the jaw joints, back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, body aches and muscle fatigue.

One common way to evaluate your posture, according to the article "The Ultimate Guide to Good Posture" on Greatist.com, is to place your head, bottom and shoulder blades against a wall. Your heels should be about 6 inches from the wall. Now, feel how much of a gap there is between your neck and the wall and between the small of your back and the wall. If the gap is greater than 2 inches, you may need some help with posture.

Tips for Better Posture

Core strength is an important part of having good posture. A daily exercise routine that builds a strong core is a great way to work toward better posture. Keeping stomach muscles tight helps the body to find balance in your posture. Shoulder blades should be pulled back and downwards while the chest is lifted slightly.

"If you’ve suffered from poor posture for a long time, you’ll have to retrain your body in a way," said Buck. "Doing some stretching exercises a few times a week will make the process easier and more comfortable."

If you work at a desk, posture can be an especially challenging part of your life. Invest in an ergonomic chair that supports your body’s many hours spent working in it. If you cross your legs, be sure to cross at the ankles instead of the knees. Of course, be sure to get up to stretch and walk around often.

 

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