11 Jun Mouth Breathing, Neck Pain and Posture
Mouth Breathing, Neck Pain and Posture – The Connection to TMJ
Wondering how TMJ & Sleep breathing disorders are related? Here is one example: Mouth Breathing. During human development, when nasal breathing is blocked, and mouth breathing occurs, the result can be abnormal or insufficient facial and dental development. Studies have found that untreated mouth breathing can lead to the development of long, narrow faces, crooked teeth, narrow arches, receded jaw, and future TMJ problems. This is because if the mouth is open then the tongue is on the floor of the mouth instead of the palate where it belongs when your head is growing. When the jaw and airway don’t develop fully and it is out of position, TMJ disorders and obstructive sleep apnea can occur. Because the jaw is not where it is supposed to be you may begin to experience pain in the jaw joint along with sore jaw muscles. When your jaw muscles are tense and spasming, they can contribute to similar tension in other muscles in the head and neck, leading to head and neck pain. The muscles of the head and neck all work together in turning the head, chewing, talking and breathing and when these muscles are over-contracted it will affect the muscles holding up your head and supporting the shoulders and back.
TMJ can seriously affect your postural appearance – It has been documented through studies that both an inflammation in the TMJ and mouth breathing cause a forward head posture. For every inch the head is forward of normal, there is an additional 10 pounds of pressure put on the cervical spine of the neck. The bones in the neck, especially the atlas and the axis, are intimately involved with the muscles that control biting, chewing, talking, breathing and head posture, so when they are sore, tight and contracted the jaw muscles will tilt the head and shoulders causing compensation in the neck, shoulder and back muscles. This compensation leads to further compensation descending down to the hips, knees, and even feet.
This postural compensation often leads to one shoulder or hip becoming higher than the other or facial features that are uneven. When your entire body is not lined up properly, it can result in a decrease of your overall physical abilities. You may even feel sluggish and tired throughout your day. Your sense of balance, control and strength will be impacted and you may have to exert more effort to do even the simplest things.