A common dental problem, alterations in alignment of teeth, can lead to poorer control of posture as well as static balance, Spanish researchers have confirmed.
Misaligned teeth, or occlusion, may include teeth that do not touch perfectly such as a shifted midline, gaps between teeth, crowding, crossbites and missing teeth.
‘It would be helpful for both the general population and athletes to consider correcting dental occlusions to improve postural control and thus prevent possible falls and instability.’
Dental occlusion is the contact made between the top and bottom teeth when closing the mouth. Teeth may be perfectly aligned or they may present alterations with varying levels of severity.
Dental occlusion's association with postural control may seem statistically weak, but grows stronger when a person experiences fatigue or when instability is a factor, the study said.
"Postural control is the result of a complex system that includes different sensory and motor elements arising from visual, somatosensory -- denoting a sensation such as pressure, pain, or warmth -- and vestibular information -- regarding motion, equilibrium, and spatial orientation," agenciasinc.es quoted Sonia Julia-Sanchez, researcher at the University of Barcelona in Spain, as saying.
Further, malocclusion -- imperfect positioning of the teeth when the jaws are closed -- has also been associated with different motor and physiological alterations, especially when people were fatigued than when they were rested.
But postural control was shown to improve -- both in static and dynamic equilibrium -- when different malocclusions are corrected by positioning the jaw in a neutral position.
"When the subjects were tired their balance was worse under both stable and unstable conditions. Under static conditions, the factor that had the greatest impact on imbalance was fatigue, Julia-Sanchez added.
In contrast, a significant relationship between exhaustion and dental occlusion was observed under conditions of maximum instability, Julia-Sanchez said.
However, this relationship can play a crucial role in athletes in how well they ultimately perform as well as in the prevention of injuries such as sprains, strains and fractures caused by unexpected instability as fatigue increases and motor control capacity decreases.
"Therefore, it would be helpful for both the general population and athletes to consider correcting dental occlusions to improve postural control and thus prevent possible falls and instability due to a lack of motor system response," Julia-Sanchez concluded, in the paper published in the journal Motor Control and Neuroscience Letters.