Dentists and Osteopaths are working together more and more nowadays. This makes great sense, because there is a fundamental relationship between proper, balanced movement in the face and mouth and in the rest of the body. In other words, there is a body attached to the head! The connection between the position of the teeth when the jaw is closed (OCCLUSION) and how osteopathy can influence this by working on the head and body as a whole is very complicated.
Sometimes a common toothache may be due to a problem of restricted movement in the upper part of the neck. An over-stimulated nerve in this area irritates the nerve in the face.
Most people think that the skull and the face are made up of a bones that do not move. From the observation and work of skilled osteopaths, however, it is clear that the head is instead a dynamic and mobile structure. All the bones in the cranium are designed to move, or “breathe” slightly – the primary respiratory mechanism or PRM. The sutures joining the bones together are like movable hinges, allowing a gentle spreading; this gives a pumping action to the system, without which it will not work as it should.
Distortion of the Jaws (MALOCCLUSION)
In my practice I am concerned with the size, shape and relationship of your teeth so that they fit together properly. Underdeveloped or distortion of one or both jaws and therefore the teeth are well recognized in dentistry. Corrections must be done directly by developing the arches and straightening the teeth by various kind of braces.
We need our jaws to fit together well to have a healthy gums and teeth. The joints and the soft tissues that work the jaws also depend on this. If all is as it should be, we can talk, chew and grind without causing any problems.
The ligament that attaches the teeth to its socket is called the periodontal ligament. It is highly sensitive and richly supplied with nerve fibers. This is how we are aware of even the smallest variation of pressure on each tooth remember what it feels like to have a piece of celery string caught between your teeth! This sensitivity shows how important it is to have even contact between the teeth.
Signs of Malocclusion
There are a number of clear signs and symptoms that show problems in how a person’s jaw fits together. Among these are heavily worn teeth, shiny spots or grooves on fillings and teeth that are not straight in the jaw. The patient may also have had problems with broken teeth or fillings; clenching or grinding of teeth (especially at night); white lines in the mouth; and scalloped edges to the tongues.
Malocclusion can begin with a difficult birth, inherited problem of too many or too few teeth, a blow to the face or jaw or poor diet can also create difficulties. Even where it looks like a child may have inherited some problems, though, there are likely t be other factors that could benefit from osteopathic and dental treatment. Ideally, treatment should begin as soon as possible after the birth.
Birth Trauma and Malocclusion
It has been known for some time that many problems that dentists are called upon to deal with are developmental. and may in part be caused by difficulties during the birth of a baby. Osteopathic work with the primary respiratory mechanism has further recognized the significance of such trauma. The process of birth can sometimes compress the head, and such babies may have asymmetric faces and unusually high palates.
Some of the following symptoms in an infant or young child can suggest problems:
Habits such as breathing through the mouth, thumb-sucking, tongue-thrusting, biting the lips, sleeping only on one side of the face and early or late loss of baby teeth are signs of difficulties that must be treated as soon as possible. Osteopath and your dentist can work together to remedy the situation.
If the compression are treated early enough by an Osteopath the results may be twofold: immediate release of the restriction; and gradual remolding of the abnormalities in the structure of the jaws. The best insurance against future malcurvature of the spine and malocclusion is when the osteopath removes the restrictions in the newborn that prevent the normal movement of the primary respiratory mechanism (PRM) in the head.
Most people have not had the opportunity of this treatment by an Osteopath, and they develop malocclusion that now require some kind of orthopedics and/or orthodontic treatment preferably as a young child where there is still growth potential. Unfortunately if this malocclusion is not treated in children it will give rise to so many jaw and/or teeth problems in adulthood. Such as broken teeth, periodontal disease, severe worn dentition, jaw aches, headaches and many other related symptoms.
Other causes of Malocclusion
Direct trauma to the jaw and face can also cause problems. Falling forward on to the chin and blows to the jaw can distort the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) and compress the bones of the face and head. Having teeth out can also leave unwelcome forces between and inside the bones of the mouth and face, so if possible avoid having any teeth removed – unless it is absolutely necessary.
If some teeth are missing, or only one side of the mouth is used for chewing, an unequal and considerable strain is placed on one joint.
The cheek bones continue to grow throughout your life. So where a person’s teeth are all removed and dentures fitted, there may be bone loss in the face over a period of time. The dentures may therefore need to be built up to compensate for this. If the dentures are the wrong height, they may create an imbalance in the jaw muscles