Is there a way to fight dizziness?

When the teeth are to blame for the dizziness

Craniomandibular dysfunction (CMD) can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including dizziness. Find out why a misalignment of the jaw can lead to dizziness and how a CMD is diagnosed and treated in this article.

About Clausen & Partner - your dentists for CMD

In our CMD center you will find, among other things, the treatment options and other symptoms of craniomandibular dysfunction. You will also find a self-test there, with which you can rule out in advance whether you might have a CMD or not.

CMD - what is it?

A CMD is a misalignment of the jaw that can affect the entire body. The term CMD is an abbreviation for “craniomandibular dysfunction”, with “cranium” for skull, “mandible” for lower jaw and “dysfunction” for malfunction.

In most cases, a CMD is caused by an incorrect occlusion, i.e. the upper and lower jaw no longer meet properly. Just 0.2 millimeters between the teeth can be enough for the jaw to move out of its natural position. He then falls into a forced position, which the body tries to compensate. These compensation attempts result in consequential damage and symptoms that can be very diverse in their nature.

How is a CMD created?

A CMD is caused by different causes. Genetic factors, such as hereditary tooth misalignment, can lead to CMD, for example. However, external influences such as a change in the bite position due to dentures, orthodontic treatment or accidents can also lead to jaw misalignment.

Stress is also counted among the important factors of a CMD. Because many people tend to clench their teeth harder in stressful situations or to grind them hard (mainly at night). Grinding teeth can therefore also lead to jaw misalignment. But causes that do not immediately come to mind can also cause CMD. For example, a crooked posture or pain-related relieving posture, which ultimately affects the jaw via the spine.

Symptoms of CMD

Due to the different causes and manifestations, CMD can also give rise to a wide variety of symptoms. Obvious symptoms are those that have to do with the jaw and teeth, such as jaw cracking, toothache, jaw pain, tooth wear, teeth grinding, or problems chewing. But there are also symptoms that do not immediately suggest a connection with the teeth. Headaches, tinnitus, visual disturbances and eye problems, neck and back pain, knee pain, hip and pelvic inclinations or dizziness can also be symptoms of CMD.

How can the dizziness caused by CMD be explained?

When dizzy, most do not immediately think of a connection to the teeth. However, the joints and muscles of the lower jaw are connected to the inner ear. If someone complains of dizziness, the reason may be a balance disorder that has manifested itself due to the misalignment of the jaw. The equilibrium is controlled by the brain, which receives its information from three areas: from the inner ear, from vision, i.e. by obtaining visual information and from the receptors of the muscles and joints (depth perception). All three pieces of information come together in the brain and ensure our balance.

The inner ear provides most of the sense of balance. In this there is a so-called “labyrinth structure”, which consists of three channels. These channels are filled with a fluid that leads to a sense of balance when moving. Now, however, the inner ear is connected directly to the lower jaw via the temporal bone. The so-called lower jaw pit hangs on the temporal bone, just like the inner ear.

You can even determine the connection yourself by inserting your little finger into the front of the ear canal and then opening your mouth. You can then feel the movement of the temporomandibular joints. If the lower and upper jaw are not ideally connected to one another, i.e. if there is a malalignment of the jaw, then pressure arises which presses on the joint socket. This pressure can become so strong that the temporal bone is moved minimally. This in turn ensures that the organ of equilibrium in the inner ear moves out of its normal position. Then an imbalance arises, which we perceive as dizziness.

Another trigger for dizziness can also be explained by muscle tension. Because the temporomandibular joint is in direct connection with the spine and the cervical vertebrae. If the jaw is now in an incorrect position, a compensation mechanism is created through the neck or shoulders, for example. The muscles try to compensate for the misalignment of the jaw. As a result, these muscles themselves get into unnatural positions and become tense. Neck and back or other tension develop. Muscle tension, especially in the neck area, can in turn cause dizziness. As already described, the receptors in the muscles and joints also send balance information to the inner ear and brain. If the muscle in the neck is tense, a permanent contraction occurs and the receptors can no longer send their signals correctly. This then leads to dizziness, imbalance or even fainting.

How is the CMD determined?

If the dizziness persists, most patients will first suspect circulatory or cardiac disorders and consult an internist. Some turn to neurologists because they suspect nerve disorders. Few of them think of their teeth and jaw when they feel dizzy. However, if neither an internist nor a neurologist finds a finding, it is advisable to contact a dentist who specializes in CMD. He will first ask a few questions and then carry out a manual functional analysis.

In this case, the temporomandibular joints and masticatory muscles are palpated and the sequence of movements observed. In addition, the dentist also considers the entire body posture and movement. If a CMD is suspected, an instrumental functional analysis will follow. With the help of instruments (including computer-aided procedures), the upper and lower jaws are measured and the occlusion is analyzed. An individual picture of the patient is recorded to determine where the jaw misalignment originates and how it can be treated. The dentist will then work out a therapy plan.

Treatment of the CMD

A CMD is always treated individually, as there are almost never identical cases. Every patient has their own medical history, causes and symptoms of CMD. Often a bite splint is used within CMD therapy, which must be worn and adjusted regularly. This ensures that the jaws find their way back into their correct position and further wear - e.g. when teeth grinding - is avoided. It is important that the cause of the CMD is identified and treated. It is not enough just to combat the symptoms (e.g. dizziness).

This would only temporarily relieve the symptoms, but at some point they would worsen again because the cause would still be there. Holistic treatment approaches are particularly important in CMD. For example, if severe neck tension accompanies dizziness, it makes sense to involve a physiotherapist or osteopath in the therapy. These can relieve the symptoms through targeted muscle exercises or massages, while the bite splint, for example, would help with respect to the jaw.

In our CMD center you will find, among other things, the treatment options and other symptoms of craniomandibular dysfunction. You will also find a self-test there, with which you can rule out in advance whether you might have a CMD or not.