Neck, Shoulder & Back Pain

Rarely does a single muscle work without other muscles in the team joining in. When muscles are overworked, they will engage other muscles to help out. This is known as muscle recruitment.

The muscles of your head and neck all work together to help your head turn, to help you breath, chew and talk. If one muscle is overworked, it will ultimately affect all the additional muscles that hold up your head and those that support your shoulders and your back. When all these muscles are unbalanced, it will result in pain.

The bones in your neck specifically are thoroughly involved with the muscles that control biting, talking, chewing, breathing and head posture. Sore, tight muscles in your jaw will tilt the head and shoulders causing over-compensation of the neck, shoulder and back muscles. Theses symptoms are some of several on the list of TMD (Temporomandibular Disorder).

TMD symptoms and signs

Gum Recession/Bone Loss:

The force transmitted down the tooth through grinding or jaw clenching causes gum recession

Ear Problems:

Due to the position of the jaw joint, inflammation in the joint can affect the middle and inner ear. If the Eustachian tube, the tube which balances pressure in the ear, runs through a muscle that is in spasm, the blockage caused by the spasms will lead to dizziness, ear congestion or stuffiness.

Joint Pain:

Due to the jaw joint being pushed out of place by incorrect jaw movement, the joint inflames causing discomfort. Pain is also an indication of joint disease:

Neck Pain:

Stiff neck, Upper back pain, Numbness of finger tips

Jaw Clicking:

tmj-neck-shoulder-back-pain-kelownaCaused by stretching or damage to ligaments in joint. Progresses over time with increased damage to joint. May cause increased muscle activity as you adopt new movements to prevent clicking.

Poor Posture / back pain:

Lack of support in bite can leads to upper back strain.

Wear of teeth:

Constant desire to posture the lower jaw where the muscles and joint are comfortable vs. where the teeth naturally mesh creates excessive wear in teeth. Grinding is a sign of moving the jaw to a more comfortable position. Clenching is a sign of bracing to help relieve the strain of muscle spasm.

TMD causes

Childhood Development:

Bottle fed babies can experience different jaw development than breast fed babies. Allergies and restricted nasal passages can cause excessive mouth breathing, resulting in improper jaw development. Large tonsils and/or adenoids restrict normal breathing and therefore change jaw development. Large tonsils can force the tongue forward and this will change jaw development.

Missing Teeth:

Changes in tooth position will affect the bite and create TMD changes caused by dentistry.


A new filling or crown can affect the bite in very subtle ways and lead to TMD. In some cases, straightening teeth can possibly lead to TMD issues.


Genetics can play into why a patient has insufficient room in the jaw for the teeth. This can result in an improper jaw relationship, leading to TMD.

Dentist West Kelowna TMD treatments

Dr. Palmer treats your TMD using neuromuscular principles. Neuromuscular dentistry aligns the teeth, jaw joints and muscles into a balanced and harmonious position.

Preventing serious issues caused by TMD early is important for your health. Learn how relieving neck, shoulder, and back pain can improve your well being. Call our West Kelowna dental clinic today and find out exactly what you are dealing with and what your treatment options are.