Good overall posture is something that is lacking in very many people in the world today, more because of an acquired lifestyle than natural inclination. And this is not a surprising observation, considering that in recent times, thorough studies are bringing to light the downsides of extensive use of our technological devices. One among a myriad of potential negative impacts to our health is the possibility of developing a bad posture, exemplified by people working more than eight hours a day hunched over their computers, or spending a tremendous amount of time looking down at their smartphones, with earphones plugged in, completely absorbed into what is unfolding before them on that screen. In most of these situations, one tends to have a seemingly comfortable go-to position which, quite frankly in the long term, may not be good posture.
If someone told you that bad posture does indeed have a bearing on your dental health, it may seem laughable because a direct link is not exactly blatant. However, what you are about to read should fill in that blank. It would be wise to pay attention to the relationship between good posture and oral health because of its potential long-term effects. This connection is centred on the forward head type of posture, which is the one you are probably employing right now as you read this on your computer or hand-held device. But what that has to do with your dental well-being is a valid question to ask. The answer is that when you have this head-forward posture type also known as “text neck”, it disposes you towards breathing through your mouth as opposed to breathing through your nose. Breathing through your mouth in turn tends to dry the protective film of saliva, leaving you more vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease.
To top that off, this posture may also give rise to more complications such as neck aches, headaches and jaw aches as a perverse bonus. These may in turn cause you to clench your teeth, something that is definitely not ideal for their state. Furthermore, breathing through your mouth also leaves it open the possibility of bacteria taking up residence due to a dry mouth. In addition, it may increase the risk of sleep disordered breathing and sleep apnoea, which in turn may engender an elevated risk of diabetes, anxiety and depression, heart disease and learning difficulties. All this is a domino effect of harm stemming from an improper posture.
It is therefore imperative that we start to take a holistic view of health and well-being when we are talking about dental health. This must manifest itself in our posture. One very easy perception for people to assume about good posture is to view it as feeling rigid and taking a lot of work to acquire. It comes to mind as working your tendons and muscles to maintain an unnatural position. Good posture in fact should feel relaxed and effortless, for when you have good posture, your bones and not your muscles keep your body upright and well-balanced. Even if it would make you sit or stand straighter or taller than is normally the case, you should not feel tense or strained, a very important thing to note.
Equally important to observe is that there is no perfect or ideal posture that we should all subscribe to. This is because all our bodies are inherently different. That being said, good posture for two people may not necessarily look the same. The common factor comes in where we should aim to have what is called a “neutral spine”, where three natural curves are retained: a small hollow at the neck’s base, a small roundness at the middle back, and a small hollow in the lower back. It would be worth a great deal to find out how this looks and the positions that this takes both when standing and sitting.
Upright posture comes with a plethora of benefits. Just to name a few, it improves body alignment fostering optimum functioning of organs, improves breathing by leaving more room for your lungs to expand, as well as mitigating back and neck pain. It makes you look taller and slimmer, and even more open, honest and trustworthy. Is that not why the words upright and standing tall attributes to someone who is virtuous? Lastly, studies show that standing with good and upright posture increases testosterone and decreases cortisone in the body. This triggers a feeling of confidence and power, improves concentration and mental performance, memory and learning, and mood as well. Amazing, right? The overall effect that acquiring good posture has is nothing short of phenomenal.