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Fedoricw, Massoumi, & Kolbig

The Importance of Dental Care for Patients with Chronic Pain

The Importance of Dental Care for Patients with Chronic Pain

Although most people don’t look forward to going to the dentist, there are some people who struggle with visiting their dentist more than others. In most cases, this is due to some form of dental anxiety. However, some people may also avoid going to their dentist if they suffer from chronic back pain. This is usually due to the simple fact that laying in the dentist’s chair can aggravate their pain. As you can probably imagine, however, avoiding the dentist is not a great idea for your oral health. In some cases, avoiding the dentist can also contribute to back pain. This is because there is a close relationship between chronic back pain and dental problems. Here are three things that you need to know about this relationship: 

Chronic back pain can be caused by dental problems. 

Chronic back pain can have a variety of causes, however one cause that is not commonly explored is dental problems. Dental problems such as overcrowding, malocclusion, missing teeth, and crooked teeth can all affect the alignment and function of your bite. When your bite is misaligned, this places additional stress on the jaw joint and the surrounding facial muscles. Since the facial muscles are connected to muscles in the neck, shoulder, and back, these muscles end up compensating for the misalignment. As a result, chronic pain tends to develop in these structures as the muscles become tired or strained over time. In some cases, correcting the dental problems responsible for jaw misalignment can actually help to relieve some cases of chronic back and neck pain. 

Certain pain medications can increase the risk of dental problems. 

People who have chronic back pain are often prescribed certain medications to help decrease the severity of their pain. While these medications are often necessary to help manage chronic back pain, it is important to realize that they can also increase the risk of dental problems like tooth decay and gum disease. This is because a common side effect of chronic pain medications is dry mouth. Dry mouth is a condition that decreases the amount of saliva that the body is able to produce. Unfortunately, dry mouth can cause a range of oral health complications such as impaired speech and swallowing, increased rate of enamel erosion due to an acidic pH in the mouth, chronic inflammation inside the mouth, and an decreased ability to taste. 

People with chronic back pain tend to have higher rates of tooth loss. 

Although this theory is still being researched, many dentists have started to notice that patients suffering from chronic back pain are more likely to end up losing their teeth or needing to have them extracted. There are a few factors that can cause this. For starters, people with chronic back pain are less likely to attend regular dental appointments since these visits can be uncomfortable. Additionally, as mentioned above, many of the medications used to treat chronic back pain can cause dry mouth, which leads to various oral health problems. Unfortunately, the combination of these two factors makes it more likely for people with chronic back pain to develop severe tooth decay or gum disease, which then increases the risk of tooth loss and/or the need for an extraction. 

As you can see, these three things are important to know for anyone who is struggling with chronic back pain. Oftentimes, people with chronic back pain tend to focus only on their back pain and can forget things like preserving their oral health. However, your oral health should never be neglected or overshadowed by other medical problems. Nowadays, many dental office are also better-equipped to comfortably accommodate people who may be affected by chronic back pain 

Dr. Roman Fedorciw has been in private practice in Cromwell since 1991. He is a member of the Academy of General Dentistry, American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and the American Dental Association. He is also a member of the Connecticut Dental Association and Middlesex County Dental Association. Dr. Fedorciw has been acknowledged by his peers as one of the “Top Dentists” in Hartford County by Hartford Magazine and in the state of Connecticut by Connecticut Magazine.