Teeth and Posture

Teeth and Posture
Posted on 03/14/2018

Teeth and Posture
S. Kent Lauson, DDS, MS, Orthodontist

What do teeth have to do with head posture anyway?  As it turns out, teeth have a lot of influence, bad and good, on a person’s head posture. Fortunately, with early intervention, many of the problems associated with poor posture can be avoided simply by addressing the displacement of the lower jaw and teeth.

When the jaw is recessed, the head moves into a forward head posture in an attempt to remain in balance, consequently putting a great deal of strain on the muscles of the neck and upper back. In the medical community, it is believed that every inch the head is carried forward from an ideal posture is the equivalent of adding ten pounds to the neck’s muscle load. This has an effect on the vertebrae in the neck, ultimately leading to the loss of cervical lordosis (the normal curvature of the neck). This unhealthy condition—sometimes referred to as a “straight neck” or “military neck”— results in a loss of mobility of the neck. If one can’t look over his shoulder at the car behind him, chances are he has lost some of the curvature and mobility of his neck.

Chronic forward head posture has also been shown not only to reduce a person’s quality of life by causing many related ailments, but also even to reduce a person’s life expectancy. It affects wide-ranging physiological functions, from breathing to hormonal production. Due to tension on the spinal cord, its coverings, and associated blood vessels, abnormal spinal curvatures can also lead to spinal dislocations and degenerative neurological conditions over time.



This illustration shows the progression of forward head posture and the loss of curvature (even reverse curvature, called kyphosis) of the neck spine.
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How is this possible? Because of the nervous system’s influence on the body, spinal misalignments and malfunctions can lead to or aggravate many seemingly unrelated but common conditions not typically associated with the spine. The slumping indicative of a forward head or body posture has been found to be directly related to current or potential spinal dysfunction, pain, and general ill health—a true sign of old age (skeletal age, that is!). Researchers continually study and confirm the far-reaching effects of abnormal spinal function on the areas of immune response, aging, hormonal production, and even genetics.

Although this fact is virtually unknown and ignored in medical literature, early treatment of dental malocclusions, such as overbites and constricted upper jaws, can have a very positive influence on a person’s overall postural development. if problems such as an overbite or mouth-breathing habit are not corrected the poor head posture will not be successfully treated. This is certainly one area of health that a person with knowledge can use to actively, positively, and profoundly impact his or her overall body health. The importance of early orthodontic intervention as recommended in The Lauson System, if indicated, can have a very positive effect to help assure proper postural development.

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