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Recent research is showing that dental occlusion is also tied to your posture and balance.
Dental occlusion, the contact made between the teeth when closing the mouth, has recently been shown to influence more than just your oral health. Recent research is showing that dental occlusion is also tied to your posture and balance.
Two new studies examined the correlation between posture, balance, and teeth that don’t fit perfectly together. According to a news release highlighting both studies, the results show conclusively that posture control is improved when different malocclusions are corrected by positioning the jaw in a neutral position.
Researchers believe that there may be a neurophysiological explanation. A reciprocal relationship between the trigeminal nerve in the face and the vestibular nucleus in the brainstem has already been shown to exist. The nerve and nucleus are responsible for both the masticatory function of the jaw and balance control. This would explain why dental malocclusions negatively influence posture and balance.
The first of the two studies examined the type of dental occlusion and whether the patient had received any previous dental or orthodontic treatments. The results of this study showed that alterations in alignment of the teeth were related to poorer control of static balance.
The second study again examined the type of dental occlusion but also looked at posture control and physical fatigue to try to analyze a relationship among these factors. The researcher’s analysis indicated that balance improved in patients when their malocclusions were corrected. It was also noted that correction of malocclusions had a greater impact on posture and balance when the patients were fatigued verses when they were well rested.
The relationship between dental malocclusion and posture control is not as obvious in everyday life, but the relationship does grow stronger when a patient is fatigued or when other instabilities are factored in. For example, pathologies like obesity, which worsen the body’s instability, significantly decreases postural control independently of dental malocclusion.
The results are especially relevant to those invested in athletic pursuits. According to this research, the correlation between malocclusion and posture and balance can have a dramatic impact on performance. Just as better posture and balance increases performance in athletic individuals, it’s also important in reducing the number of injuries that can occur, like sprains, strains, and fractures. These types of injuries are usually the result of unexpected instability of posture, due in part to increases in fatigue and a decreased motor control capacity.