Is your posture affecting your bite?


Even though as a child you probably found it annoying when someone told you to sit up straight, you’d be wise to heed this advice. 

Poor posture, such as when you slouch, or sit slumped or hunched over in your chair, causes stress on your joints and muscles, which can lead them to become overworked and fatigued. Your posture can also affect your mood, energy and self-image. But can it impact the way you bite?

The posture connection to oral health

The strain poor posture causes on joints and muscles may take a toll on your oral health. Head posture and bite are closely related. Ideally, your teeth, joints and muscles work in conjunction so your bite is aligned. Poor head posture can put stress on your jaw and other joints and muscles in your head, which can affect your bite. 

You can test this connection: Bend your head forward, bite together and notice how your bite feels. Then tilt your head back and bite again. Is there a difference in the position of your teeth and your upper and lower jaws? 

Let’s find out about the harmful effects of poor head posture.

Are you being too “forward”?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when more people are working remotely, keeping good posture may be difficult. It helps if your work desk or table, chair and computer equipment are ideally situated. 

Make sure you have an ergonomically correct home office setup to prevent problems. 

A forward head posture, such as when you’re working at your computer, can strain muscles under the chin and cause your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) to become overworked. This can cause joint pain, fatigue and popping, as well as headaches, neck pain and difficulty opening your mouth. To avoid this, you can modify your setup by using a monitor stand, or by placing your laptop on a higher surface at arm’s length so the top of the screen is at or just below eye level.

Your dentist can advise you on how to deal with issues and treat TMJ problems and teeth or jaw misalignments that affect your bite. If the bite problem involves teeth grinding, your dentist can recommend a mouthguard to protect your teeth and relieve pain.

How's your posture?

Take the "wall test" to find out.

Exercises to improve posture

You can do exercises to help prevent stresses that affect joints and muscles in your head and neck. This can help preserve bite alignment.

A couple of exercises can be useful for improving head posture, such as:

Neck rotations: Rotate your head from side to side softly. Keep making this motion without turning your head completely to the sides. Repeat 10 times.

Neck stretches: Lower your right ear over one shoulder and repeat the same action with your left ear over the other shoulder. Try to repeat several times.

Try to keep good posture and protect your bite. Years ago, being told to “sit up straight” was a pain in the neck. Today, it can prevent one.