The temporal mandibular joint (TMJ) is the jaw joint, where the jaw attaches to the skull just in front of the ear. The “socket” for this joint is on the underside of another cranial bone called the temporal bone. These are two of the 29 cranial bones that, as we have learned from the field of cranial osteopathy, move throughout life. The jaw, or mandible, makes big movements as we talk, chew and swallow and supports our lower teeth in a lower dental arch. Its motion is determined by hinging at the TMJ as well as its suspension system of seven major muscle groups, ligaments and tendons and connective tissue (fascia).
The TM joint resembles a ball and socket with the head of the jaw bone (mandible), or condyle as the “ball” in this analogy, fitting into the “socket” or concavity in the temporal bone known as the glenoid fossa. There is also a cartilage disk that separates the two bones and acts as a gliding surface as well as a cushion or shock absorber.
When the jaw is in the correct position, and the upper and lower teeth meet in a way to support that ideal joint relationship, the muscles and ligaments work in harmony to create a balanced, ideal, pain-free function. There are differing opinions on what constitutes a correct position, and how to restore it. A healthy jaw joint allows a person to open wide and function without any discomfort or noise (clicking, popping, grinding sounds). Opening wide, one should be able to fit the knuckles of the middle three fingers side-by-side between the upper and lower edges of the front teeth. Less than that may suggest jaw tightness or limitation.
TMJ symptoms may include: headaches; jaw aches; stiffness; earaches; congestion; ringing in the ears; clicking, popping or grating sounds when opening and closing the mouth; limited jaw opening or locking in an open or closed position; dizziness or loss of balance; tired jaws when chewing; difficulty in swallowing; and more.
From the medical field of cranial osteopathy, we understand that all 29 cranial bones, not just the jaw, move in a slow, fluid rhythm, providing a balancing aspect to the central nervous system and surrounding connective tissue. With restrictions to this very important motion—such as clenching, grinding or other strain patterns from injuries and traumas—balance in the whole body can be compromised.
If the jaw and bite are “off”, even without noticeable temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) symptoms, a descending issue is created in the body which can compromise alignment from the head and base of the skull downward, throwing the level of the hips out of alignment. This can result in pain in the knees, hips, back, neck and shoulders and as a result, adjustments from a bodyworker or therapist will not “hold” as long—if at all.
After 40 years of treating TMJ dysfunction non-invasively, we recently introduced our newest, most comprehensive and revolutionary whole-body approach to TMJ issues: Fluid Body Dynamics. This approach includes new concepts of pain management and functional movement therapeutics; cutting-edge therapeutic modalities, such as whole-body vibration and cranial osteopathic techniques; as well as much more.
Our Fluid Body Dynamics team will begin by assessing your unique conditions and needs to determine if your condition qualifies for the use of this program. Our team then helps create a customized treatment plan, which averages about five months in length.
When indicated, the program involves the use of specialized dental appliances to idealize and stabilize the jaw joint position—both at night and functionally during the day. These appliances are fully functional and not used only for sleep. They need to be adjusted as old traumas and injuries are released and the body alignment changes.
Release of each of these distortion patterns are like the layers of an onion; they can cause restrictions in the body’s soft tissue (fascia) and impair muscle function, blood flow, nerve signaling and normal physiology. As the body changes and improves with each bodywork session (with the optional use of Medicine Wheel’s patented Percussion Table), one’s appliances will be immediately readjusted to reflect this new stability and balance.
The Fluid Body Dynamics system is client-driven, utilizing a case manager who works directly with you, communicating feedback and identifying needs between the members of one’s integrative team.
You are seen by the our integrative team utilizing body/jaw alignment, cranial osteopathic techniques, Neuro Kinetic Therapeutics and myofascial release work. Meanwhile, a movement specialist guides them into whole-body balancing using a system of specific self-care exercises to retrain and stabilize their improving state of balance and body use patterns. To obtain whole-body balance and freedom from pain and discomfort, requires new awareness, positive postural relationships, letting go of old postural habits and compensations, developing positive breathing techniques and getting in touch with one’s own unique ways of dealing with stress.
Normally, within the first month of the program, while treating the primary underlying causes, you can see a positive effect on your symptoms by 50 percent. By the end of five months, you can usually achieve relief of 70 to 80 percent of the symptoms you walked in with, all without medications or surgery.
Once stabilized and living a new life, either maintenance with the appliances or permanent dental approaches such as orthodontics or dental reconstruction can be discussed, if indicated. This approach is a must with children before turning to orthodontics if they are demonstrating a high hip or pre-scoliosis patterns.
We take the time to help you step forward into relief and a positive lifestyle. Connect with us and set up an evaluation today! 520-743-7101.
TMJ and the Movement of All 29 Cranial Bones—An Entirely New Paradigm
In the world of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) treatment, there are many different approaches, each meeting with varying degrees of success. Almost all TMJ treatment is based on the assumption that the skull is solid, the suture joints are closed and that the only moving bone in the skull is the jaw bone and the tiny bones in the ear whose vibrations allow for hearing.
However, from the medical field of Cranial Osteopathy, we know that all 29 bones of the head move with a fluid motion of the cerebrospinal fluid, bathing the brain and continuing through the spinal cord all the way to the tailbone (sacrum). In fact, all of the entire body connective tissue (fascia) and the body skeletal system are interconnected like an intricate pulley system through which this motion can be detected. If there have been traumas or injuries, there can be a distortion in this soft tissue “body glove” that can affect the function of muscles, blood flow and nerve signaling, as well as many other body systems. This is similar to having a kink in a water hose. These restricted areas exist in the connective tissue like layers of an onion, even after the original injury has healed, which can create pain and compensations in movement and function anywhere in the body.
In the fields of structural and manual medicine, we know that all spinal segments affect each other in an “as above, so below” relationship. For example, if there is an imbalance at the cranial base of the skull, we can usually find an imbalance of the level of the hips. Level hips are foundational for a properly aligned spine and a level cranial base. All of this is directly influenced by the jaw’s TMJ position. A restricted cranial base impinges on the vagus nerve, the longest of the cranial nerves, which carries parasympathetic nerve signaling to the heart, lungs, diaphragm and digestive system.
TMJ has often been referred to as “the Great Masquerader” because it affects so many areas and functions of the body, with seemingly unrelated symptoms. These symptoms can drive sufferers from medical doctors to specialists in search of relief. Most people never think to contact a dentist, since the symptoms masquerade as so many other complaints that seem primarily medical in nature. Indeed, the TMJ is a body joint, and by definition, a medical issue. But because of how the teeth and bite define the positioning of this joint and function, it often requires dental support or attention.
With this in mind, when choosing a dentist to help guide one’s TMJ to balance, the best choice is a practitioner who understands the movement of all cranial bones and works from a holistic perspective to create full body/jaw alignment.
Laser Treatments for Holistic Oral Care
Holistic oral care is focused on the highest standard of patient care with an emphasis on total body wellness. For this reason, Medicine Wheel Dental and Wellness Center has incorporated a laser for soft tissue treatment and management of the following:
Tooth sensitivities – laser therapy is commonly used to seal exposed tubules (located on the root of the tooth) that are responsible for tooth sensitivity.
Gummy smiles – lasers can reshape gum tissue to expose healthy tooth structure and improve the appearance of a gummy smile.
Frenectomy – a laser frenectomy is an ideal treatment option for children or adults who are tongue tied (restricted or tight frenulum) and may also help to eliminate speech impediments.
Benign tumors – lasers may be used for the painless and suture-free removal of benign tumors from the gums, palate, sides of cheeks and lips.
Cold sores – low intensity dental lasers reduce pain associated with cold sores, apthous ulcers and herpetic lesions as well as a significantly minimizing healing time. Get immediate relief in a matter of minutes!
Depigmentation of gum disease – patients who have a darker pigment on their gum tissue and wish to lighten for cosmetic purposes.
Bacteria reduction during cleanings – lasers seeks out and eliminates oral bacteria beneath the gum line. These bacteria are responsible not only for inflammation and gum disease, but can be linked to increased risk for several systemic diseases. These diseases include, but are not limited to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, risk of stroke, diabetes and low birth weight in babies.
Lasers in dentistry have been used successfully for decades and are an excellent tool in the overall health of our oral tissues.
The laser treatment only takes about 5-10 minutes and is painless. Laser therapy not only improves oral health, but also significantly reduces the overall bacterial load present in the entire body. Laser therapy during cleaning appointments is one more way to improve your overall well being. Be sure to take advantage of this new service at your next cleaning appointment.
We are now, not only improving oral health with mechanical removal of irritants such as plaque and tartar, but also eliminating the source of infection by destroying billions of colonies of bacteria.
The addition of laser therapy at Medicine Wheel Dental and Wellness Center gives us another tool to improve the general health of our patients and it is truly an exciting modality.
For more information on the use of lasers in holistic oral care, please contact us.
A great new article in Natural News was recently published regarding the importance and also expressing important knowledge about holistic dentistry.
Here’s the highlights:
(NaturalNews) To maintain good health, it is crucial to minimize our exposure to toxins. Therefore, we should consult the right doctor when we need one, opt for fresh organic foods, and be careful with the cleaning and cosmetic products we use. But did you know that choosing the right holistic dentist for yourself and your family is no less important than having a good and honest doctor?
What many people don’t realize is that the health of our teeth and gums is the forerunner for the health of the rest of our body. One dentist, Dr. Idelle S. Brand, experienced this first-hand when she was diagnosed with Lyme disease.
When conventional doctors told her that the disease was incurable and she’d better consider going on a permanent disability pension, she decided to take matters into her own hands and found alternative ways to regain her health. She said that she was able to get past the disease by detoxing her body. Her method worked so well that she wrote a book about it – “My Secrets to Regaining Health.”
Holistic dentistry. What’s it all about?
In Midtown Manhattan, Dr. Brand runs The Brand Wellness Center which brings a unique and holistic approach to dentistry. She usually treats patients with chronic illnesses that have no common medical cure. According to Dr. Brand, patients have experienced that everything that is happening in their mouth is related to their overall body health.
“When you make that connection you can start turning around chronic illnesses,” Dr. Brand told The Epoch Times.
A consultation usually includes aromatherapy and healing sound frequencies. You can also opt to hold special rocks that absorb stress during a dental procedure. Furthermore, she’ll teach you about how the organs and meridians relate to each one of your teeth before releasing you from her care after a free 2-minute meditation session to balance your energy fields.
Why you should consider dental detoxing for better health
As stated by Dr. Brand, toxins are constantly wreaking havoc on our system and contribute to autoimmune diseases. Nonetheless, the importance of toxins in teeth and the rest of the body is often overlooked and ignored in conventional medicine and dentistry.
She added that until people remove these toxins from their body, it is going to be difficult to get well. When you free your body from toxins you put less stress on the immune system so your body can start functioning better.
If you still have teeth with a mercury filling, the first step to better health is to remove the mercury-leaching source and then nurture your body back to health by removing mercury and other toxins through proper nutrition.
Apart from safely removing these toxic fillings, Dr. Brand noted that people should be extra careful and make sure the dentist replaces them with white fillings that are fluoride and bisphenol A (BPA) free. There is no point in replacing one toxin with another.
Medicine Wheel Dental
To download the complete mercury vapor fact sheet, please click here:
And to learn more about our mercury removal services, please click here:
Safe Mercury Removal
You have a right to know that amalgam dental fillings are 50% mercury.
But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t want you to know. FDA denies you this right by refusing to provide dental consumers with direct information – i.e., patient labeling – about amalgam’s mercury content. In its 2009 dental amalgam rule, FDA goes so far as to illogically claim that providing this information directly to consumers would somehow prevent dentists and patients from discussing treatment options.
This week, Consumers for Dental Choice filed a petition calling on FDA to require patient labeling for amalgam, which would include at least information about amalgam’s mercury, risks, and mercury-free filling options.
The petition points out that FDA continues to reject proposals to provide consumers with direct information about amalgam’s mercury even though Zogby polls show that almost 90% of people are not learning this important fact from their dentists….
….even though the Minamata Convention on Mercury requires each party to promote and facilitate provision of information on mercury-free alternatives to the public….
….even though the experience of Sweden and Norway – where amalgam use is banned – proves that public awareness of amalgam’s mercury results in a phase down of amalgam use, as the Minamata Convention requires….
….even though new international guidance from United Nations Environment Programme, a brochure entitled Lessons from Countries Phasing Down Dental Amalgam Use, urges countries to raise public awareness of amalgam’s mercury….
….even though FDA’s own expert advisory panel repeatedly says patient labeling is needed for dental amalgam….
…and even though FDA’s own Guidance on Medical Device Patient Labeling indicates that patient labeling is necessary to ensure safety and proper disposal.
It is time for FDA to get consumers the information they need to say “No” to mercury amalgam fillings. We invite you to join us in challenging FDA’s “no right to know” policy. The Director of FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health – and the person who signed FDA’s amalgam rule approving the industry cover-up of the mercury – is Dr. Jeff Shuren.
We urge you to email Director Shuren at Jeff.Shuren@fda.hhs.gov or call him at 301-796-5900 to ask: When will FDA order the disclosure of dental amalgam’s mercury to American parents and patients.
For more information please click here: http://www.toxicteeth.org/pressRoom_recentNews/May-2016/Challenge-FDA-s–no-right-to-know–policy.aspx
Shining a Light on Men’s Dental Health – By Dr. Steven Swidler
A quick internet search on “men and dental health” will show that men are simply less likely to take care of their teeth and gums. With all the hard scientific dental data available linking dental issues with major health conditions such as heart disease, strokes, compromised immune systems and more, men still tend to procrastinate far more than women when it comes to their oral health.
According to new research in the Journal of Periodontology, men are almost twice as likely to completely ignore this important and often overlooked segment of our health and well-being. The National Institutes of Health says that dentists are in a unique position to identify a host of issues and early signs of ailments, such as rheumatoid arthritis, acid reflux (exponentially accelerates tooth erosion), oral cancer, celiac disease (leads to tooth discoloration, spots, banded/grooved look on teeth), osteoporosis, increased risk of heart attack and stroke and more.
Men increase their odds of having major dental problems over women due to specifics such as putting pain off, less homecare attention, being on more medications than women (many of which can lead to dry mouth), contact sports or physical hobbies, increased tobacco use (especially chewing tobacco), and maybe some good old-fashioned pride/avoidance. As a result, men have more plaque, more bleeding and swollen gums, bad breath, fewer teeth and far more trouble with their bite. Statistics support that men are on more medications, and a result of many meds is less saliva, which makes for a dry mouth. We need saliva to wash cavity-causing bacteria away. Men are also more likely to develop throat, tongue and other mouth cancers.
While it is difficult for the experts to be conclusive about what percent of the above conditions are dentally induced, we know from extensive research they most certainly are dentally involved. There are excellent products, dentists and information out there to support men with the increasingly growing gap of health issues related to dental avoidance. Procrastinating invites far greater costs, pain and side effects. Consistent monitoring with a dental professional, proper homecare and addressing any problems early on can save tens of thousands of dollars.
Holistic dentistry focuses on overall wellness as a standard practice, from material testing to alternative approaches to gum problems. A holistic dentist can remove toxic mercury/amalgam fillings safely. They provide noninvasive approaches to TMJ, which affects one’s bite, and as a result, their entire structural alignment. TMJ symptoms are accelerated even more by stress, clenching or an overlooked imbalance.
It is not recommended to exceed six months between dental visits (sooner if something is wrong), but we are individuals. What works for one person may not be the same for the next. Therefore, it is important to locate a dental office where we feel comfortable and our unique needs are acknowledged, as it is a cooperative effort to achieve and maintain dental and overall health.
Having and maintaining daily oral health practices is a key to a long healthy life for both sexes, even if it is not our favorite thing to do as males. Putting dentistry off simply costs more. It costs our health, our vitality, our confidence and therefore our quality of life.
Medicine Wheel Dental & Wellness Center is located at 4650 W. Jojoba Dr., in Tucson. For more information, call 520-743-7101 or visit MedicineWheelDental.com. See ad, back cover.
Here’s the link to the article in Natural Awakenings
Holistically Fighting Gum Disease
By: Dr. Steven Swidler
A recently published dental bulletin states that, “almost all Americans, except the millions who already wear false teeth, have some form of gum disease.” Over the past decade, there has been mounting evidence that points to the relation of cardiovascular disease, stroke, atherosclerosis and vascular disease in patients with higher levels of gum—or periodontal—disease.
What Causes Periodontal Disease?
The mouth routinely harbors about 300 different varieties of bacteria, however it has been scientifically proven that the troublemakers are spirochetes, motile rods and cocci. If these nasty bugs can be reduced below certain levels, the body can heal itself.
Our teeth are encompassed by bone and attached to our gums by a periodontal ligament. A space, or crevice, just under the gum line, which is measurable and varies between 1 and 3 millimeters, is a natural hiding place for the hundreds of good and bad bacteria our mouths naturally harbor. When these bacteria are not cleansed routinely through tooth brushing, flossing, oil pulling and other cleansing techniques, a low-grade infection or gingivitis can occur.
Gingivitis is the beginning of a potentially harmful disease process which, if left untreated, can result in tooth loss and significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Swollen, bleeding gums harbor bacteria, which travels through the enlarged blood vessels through the blood stream and to the entire body, much of which has been proven to settle in the heart.
In understanding the etiology of gum disease, it is well to keep in mind that no two human beings are exactly alike. There is a wide variation in any individual’s resistive ability when it comes to fighting off gum disease. According to many studies, in a large sample of people whose general health would be considered good, a few would have such strong resistance that their gums and supportive bone stays healthy even if they were very neglectful of oral hygiene, eating habits and the like. Another small group would be highly prone even if they were very conscientious. A large group in the middle would suffer what might be called typical gum disease.
Some people will suffer from what could be called “magnified” gum problems. Gum disease can be exacerbated by many conditions, including stress, immunosuppression, malnutrition, endocrine abnormalities and mouth chemistry. Therefore, one who has been using all the right methods of eliminating the cause of gum disease, yet still having problems, should analyze the possibility of some intrinsic factor that might be complicating the overall health picture.
Being treated medically for any number of problems can also have side effects complicating the gum disease situation. For example, about 500 different commercially prepared drugs can cause a reduction in the amount of saliva flow. Reduced salivary flow can have an extremely damaging effect on the teeth, gums and supportive bone.
Minimizing or Reversing Periodontal Disease
Part of the solution lies in cleansing this crevice of the toxic waste products from harmful bacteria. Brushing and flossing are just part of a healthy dental routine. A healthy and effective alternative to toothpaste is a do-it-yourself toothpaste remedy that has been around for decades. Take equal parts of salt and baking soda in a “dipping bowl” and, using a damp toothbrush, dip into the powder mixture and brush. You may need to reapply as necessary. This technique might be a bit messy and not taste great, but will do wonders for decreasing the biofilm buildup and inflammation associated with early stage periodontal disease. This oral hygiene method can be included a few times per week as a maintenance or preventive means to battle gum disease.
Holistic dentistry focuses on treating the whole body and not just the symptoms, as with mainstream health care, so it is no surprise that the discipline stresses good nutrition and gut health—key factors among those that enjoy freedom from dental problems. Teeth, like bones, are made up of primarily calcium and phosphorus. Individuals, who, at any time in their lives, have been shortchanged of these two valuable elements in their diet, will most likely suffer a degree of adverse dental effects, such as soft teeth or weak bone support for the roots.
The saliva that is produced for us by glands in and around the mouth contains calcium and phosphorus in solution, along with various enzymes. The calcium and phosphorus ions help to keep teeth strong by depositing themselves in the outer layers of the teeth. Therefore, under the right conditions, teeth are constantly being hardened or mineralized.
The key to avoiding the effects of most types of gum disease in human beings should include a multifactorial approach, outlined below.
• A focus on proper nutrition and gastrointestinal health, to decrease overall inflammation and immune issues
• Test and monitor mouth alkalinity/acidity
• A consistent and thorough oral hygiene program including, but not limited to, brushing, flossing, use of a Waterpik and in many cases, oil pulling
• Smoking cessation
• Safe and effective home care products
• Drinking plenty of water
• Brush teeth or swish with water immediately after eating highly acidic foods or drinking lemon water
• Regular hygiene and dental check-ups