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Headaches and jaw pain? Check your posture

Americans who experience frequent headaches and pain in their lower jaw -- between the earlobe and jawline, should check their posture and consult their dentist about temporomandibular disorders (TMD), reports the Academy of General Dentistry, an organization of general dentists dedicated to continuing dental education.

Poor posture places the spine in a position that causes stress to the jaw joint. When people slouch or hunch over, the lower jaw shifts forward -- causing the upper and lower teeth to not fit together properly, and the skull moves back on the spinal column.

This movement puts stress on muscles, joints and bones and, if left untreated, can create pain and inflammation in muscles and joints when the mouth opens and closes.

"Good posture is important, yet many people don't realize how posture affects their oral health," said Ludwig Leibsohn, DDS, an Academy spokesperson.

Dr. Leibsohn treats patients who have complained of TMD pain. "Their posture often is unbalanced and it affects and rearranges the position of the facial muscles, causing the bumps and grooves on the upper and lower teeth not to fit properly together," said Dr. Leibsohn.

Dentists design special mouthguards that help align the teeth in a position that will reduce facial pain muscle strain caused by poor posture. The appliance can also prevent future damage to teeth.

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