The Importance of Dental Care in Patients with Chronic Pain

The Importance of Dental Care in Patients with Chronic Pain

Do you suffer from chronic back pain? Do you also have problems with your oral health? Did you know that these two problems can be related? When most people think about managing either their oral health or back pain, they rarely think about how one can affect the other. However, there is actually a relationship between chronic back pain and dental problems that could explain why you have problems with one, the other, or both. Here are three things that you should know about chronic back pain and dental problems: 


Dental problems can lead to chronic back pain. 

One of the first things that you should know is that there is a chance that your chronic back pain is actually being caused by dental problems. This can be the case when crooked teeth, overcrowding, missing teeth, or bruxism affect the alignment of your jaw. When the jaw is not properly aligned, it cannot function properly and exerts more stress on the surrounding tissues. Of course, this can cause pain in the joint itself, as well as the surrounding facial muscles. But what many people don’t realize is that strain in the facial muscles can lead to strain in the neck, shoulder, and back muscles. When pain occurs in a different area than where it is caused, this is known as referred pain. If your back pain is being caused by jaw alignment problems, then your dentist may be able to alleviate your pain by correcting the dental problem responsible for the poor alignment. 

tablets spilling out of prescription bottle

Chronic pain medications can affect your oral health. 

Another thing that you should be aware of is the fact that medications used to treat chronic back pain can have an affect on your oral health. This is because a common side effect of these medications is dry mouth. Dry mouth is a condition characterized by a decrease in saliva production. Since saliva is an important part of your mouth’s ecosystem, decreased saliva production can cause a range of problems, including: changes in one’s ability to taste, impairments in speech and swallowing, chronic mouth inflammation, and increased acidity in the mouth that leads to enamel erosion. Unfortunately, these problems also drastically increase the risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease. 


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

One final thing to consider if you have chronic back pain is that you may be at a higher risk of tooth loss. One reason for this is that you are more likely to develop dry mouth, tooth decay, and gum disease due to chronic pain medications. Unfortunately, dry mouth also increases the rate at which these conditions progress, meaning that they can become serious in a shorter amount of time. Severe periodontal disease is the top reason for tooth loss and severe decay is another main reason for tooth loss. Another reason is the fact that many people with back pain avoid going to the dentist because it can aggravate their back pain. However, since people with chronic pain are at an increased risk of dental issues, not going to the dentist prevents their dentist from being able to properly treat these dental issues. The consequences of both these things is that many people end up losing their teeth or having them extracted. 

Dr. Deborah TabbPatients at Bethesda Family Dentistry benefit from the knowledge and experience that only comes from a diverse team. From general dentistry to endodontic, periodontics, and cosmetic dental services, this Bethesda, MD clinic is ready to be the only source you need for all your oral health needs.