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Dental problems cause back and neck pains, says oral health specialist
NOT keeping up with dentists' appointments can cause neck and back pains and infections, according to a a Spanish medical director.
Dr Estela Arias of the Vitaldent Medical Commission says about 30% of the population suffers sleep problems – either sleeping too much or not enough – some because their teeth are badly aligned, and others for different reasons which affect their dental health.
“Sleep issues affect oral health, which affects your overall health, since sleep is a necessary state for keeping your organism on an even keel,” Dr Arias explains.
“According to the Spanish Sleep Sickness Association [ASENARCO], the average time we spend asleep has gone down by around 20% in the last century, which translates as two hours less per day – and can be seen clearly in bags or dark circles beneath your eyes, or in the shape of your face, whether it's very long or very short.
“These sleep alterations can cause unbalanced chewing when you eat, affecting your digestion and nutrition, leading to a habit of breathing through the mouth which can damage your dental hygiene by causing caries and gum disease.”
One of the solutions proposed for correcting these problems includes neuro-muscular relaxation and realigning the teeth to obtain an optimum chewing function which 'stabilises neck and back muscle structures', Dr Arias explains.
“You need to employ a form of orthodonics that solves chewing issues, teeth-grinding and jaw-clenching,” she says.
If that does not resolve the problem, muscular pain increases and sufferers are more likely to hear their jaw 'creak' or 'crack' when they eat or yawn.
In the long run, this situation can limit everyday activities because of back and neck pain, diminishing quality of life and even affecting the sufferer's job.
Back problems tend to be recurring in these scenarios, Dr Arias warns – especially given that 80% of the population has suffered back pain at least once in their lives.
This can be caused by crooked biting and chewing, and infections, which affect the muscles and make wounds and cuts harder to heal and more likely to recur or remain.
“Hence the importance of acquiring good dental habits from a very early age,” Dr Arias advises.
“If an adult has not developed these habits – and proper sleep habits - from childhood, it's very likely he or she will show poorly-positioned teeth when biting and chewing, leading to the jaw coming out of alignment and creating neck and back muscle contractions,” Dr Arias concludes.
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