Is Jaw Pain Connected with Posture?

A recent news story discussed that it is common for people suffering with temporomandibular joint disorders, also known as TMJ to have facial asymmetry. Research also supports that TMJ dysfunction is frequently related to facial asymmetries.

The jaw joints, also known as the TMJ is a focal point of all jaw related movements such as talking and chewing foods. The muscles, tendons and bones in the TMJ can suffer functional issues for various reasons. The resulting symptoms include pain, lockjaw, clicking noises when moving the lower jaw, or even asymmetry.

For example, if you habitually chew food with one side of your teeth, the favored side wears down due to overuse. This results in uneven teeth that twist to one side, resulting in facial asymmetry. Also the habit of favoring one side for chewing can develop the muscles in one side more than the other, resulting in different volumes of muscles in the left and right sides. If you touch your cheeks while keeping the jaws clamped, and notice that there is a definite difference between left and right, you can be pretty sure that you have an imbalance of the masseter muscles. Favoring hard-to-chew foods such as nuts, or chewing on your nails or pens, or propping up your chin with one hand can also cause TMJ disorder resulting in facial asymmetry.

Asymmetry can also be caused by poor posture and seemingly harmless habits that can cause imbalance in our bodies. Sitting with our legs crossed, leaning on one leg while standing or twisting the body to play musical instruments such as a violin, or even writing with and brushing paints can cause imbalance in the vertebrae. TMJ is often referred to as the C0 vertebra due to its connection to the cervical vertebrae. In a certain sense, the 24 vertebrae can be compared to bricks that are laid on top of another. Just as a wrongly laid foundation can cause a crooked tower, imbalance in the spine can also affect TMJ that can cause facial asymmetry.

The Key to Posture

The Atlas vertebra, also known as C1 is the top bone in the spine. This is the bone where the heavy head rests. The joint between the Atlas and the skull can frequently become damaged and misaligned due to head and neck injuries. Once the position of this upper neck and skull area has been altered compensations will develop both below and above the area.

Below the area, the muscles around the shoulders will begin to pull unevenly leading to a tilting of the shoulder girdle. Frequently, you’ll be able to visualize this when you look in the mirror. One shoulder will be noticeably higher than the other.

Continuing down the spine the muscles will continue to be imbalanced as a result of the misalignment in the upper neck and the change in the head position.

This will lead to a similar tilting of the hip position leading to uneven hips. And eventually a change in weight distribution where more of the weight will be on one leg, frequently leading to uneven wear patterns on the shoes.

Above the Atlas misalignment, the TMJ will frequently be affected. As the head tilts to one side more pressure will be applying to one side of the jaw. The longer this misalignment is there the more likely there will be facial asymmetry.

The Atlas vertebrae can be realigned using a specialized procedure known as NUCCA.

Research has shown a greater than 85% improvement in those suffering with jaw painfollowing NUCCA spinal care.  Several other research studies have been conducted over the years showing the connection between the upper neck and the jaw.

The NUCCA approach involves rebalancing the position of the head, the neck and as a consequence, the jaw.  NUCCA spinal care is safe, gentle, precise and extremely effective.

To schedule your NUCCA evaluation, click here.

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Dr. Reanna Plancich of Discover Health Chiropractic in Seattle, Washington is an Upper Cervical Chiropractor trained by the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association (NUCCA). Her upper cervical clinic also serves the Northwest Seattle area of University District, Wallingford, Wedgwood, Montlake and Capitol Hill. She is uniquely trained to correct problems in the upper cervical spine (upper neck). This vital area is intimately connected to the central nervous system and problems in this area have been shown to be an underlying cause of a variety of different health problems, including migraines and other headaches, fibromyalgia, vertigo, whiplash and auto injuries. More information can be found on her website at

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