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Chiropractic and the Jaw

The head, neck and jaw are closely linked biomechanically and neurologically. Biomechanically the jaw is attached to the head, and the head is attached to the spine. When you contract certain shoulder and neck muscles research has shown that the jaw muscle contractions will also increase.

The way your spine works influences the function of your jaw

Jaw Research Study

Scientists from New Zealand worked with a jaw expert and his team in Turkey and looked at what happened to jaw strength immediately following a chiropractic adjustment session. What the scientists found was that after the real chiropractic session the subjects were able to bite with over 10 % more force!


Although this was only a small study, this was a really interesting finding, and it might mean that the jaw and the spine influence each other more than we have previously realised. Keep this in mind next time you have any neck or jaw issues!


Video Transcript

The head, neck and jaw are closely linked biomechanically and neurologically. 1 2 Biomechanically the jaw is attached to the head, and the head is attached to the spine. Neurologically, if you clench your teeth research has shown that the neck muscles will also contract at the same time3, and when you contract certain shoulder and neck muscles (trapezius and SCM) research has shown that the jaw muscle contractions will also increase (REF one or more of 4-8). This suggests the brain sends paired commands to both jaw and neck muscles at the same time and this probably helps maintain jaw, neck and head stability together.4-8 But what happens if the neck is not working properly? And what happens to the jaw when a chiropractor adjusts someone’s spine to improve neck function? Can this influence jaw function as well?


This is exactly what a group of scientists looked at in 2018. Scientists from New Zealand worked with a jaw expert and his team in Turkey and looked at what happened to jaw strength immediately following a chiropractic adjustment session, and measured jaw strength again one week later. Because there are hardly any chiropractors in Turkey they could also test the effects of pretend or sham chiropractic.


So this group of researchers studied 28 people and split them into two groups of 14. Each participant bit down on a mold of their own teeth and their maximum bite force was measured with a strain gauge. The Subject’s teeth were embedded in these individual molds so that all their teeth could contributed to the total bite force.


What the scientists found was that after the real chiropractic session the subjects were able to bite with over 10 % more force! And this increased strength was still significantly greater after a week! Nothing changed after the pretend chiropractic care session.


This study shows that the way your spine works influences the function of your jaw. Although this was only a small study, this was a really interesting finding, and it might mean that the jaw and the spine influence each other more than we have previously realised. Keep this in mind next time you have any neck or jaw issues!


Video References

  1. Chinappi AS, Jr., Getzoff H. Chiropractic/dental cotreatment of lumbosacral pain with temporomandibular joint involvement. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1996;19(9):607-12. [published Online First: 1996/11/01]

  2. Chinappi AS, Jr., Getzoff H. A new management model for treating structural-based disorders: dental orthopedic and chiropractic co-treatment. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1994;17(9):614-9. [published Online First: 1994/11/01]

  3. Giannakopoulos NN, Hellmann D, Schmitter M, et al. Neuromuscular interaction of jaw and neck muscles during jaw clenching. J Orofac Pain 2013;27(1):61-71. doi: 10.11607/jop.915 [published Online First: 2013/02/21]

  4. Catanzariti JF, Debuse T, Duquesnoy B. Chronic neck pain and masticatory dysfunction. Joint Bone Spine 2005;72(6):515-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jbspin.2004.10.007 [published Online First: 2005/10/18]

  5. Ertekin C, Celebisoy N, Uludag B. Trigeminocervical reflexes elicited by stimulation of the infraorbital nerve: head retraction reflex. J Clin Neurophysiol 2001;18(4):378-85. [published Online First: 2001/10/24]

  6. Hagberg C. EMG versus force relationship in painful masseter muscles before and after intramuscular anesthetics and saline injections. Scand J Dent Res 1987;95(3):259-65. [published Online First: 1987/06/01]

  7. Hu JW, Yu XM, Vernon H, et al. Excitatory effects on neck and jaw muscle activity of inflammatory irritant applied to cervical paraspinal tissues. Pain 1993;55(2):243-50. [published Online First: 1993/11/01]

  8. Leandri M, Gottlieb A, Cruccu G. Head extensor reflex evoked by trigeminal stimulation in humans. Clin Neurophysiol 2001;112(10):1828-32. [published Online First: 2001/10/12]

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