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Columns : Body by Blower - Dr. Brian Blower DC Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

Chiropractic and TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint)
By Dr. Brian G Blower, DC
Mar 1, 2013 - 9:11:15 AM

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Rory McIlroy #1 golfer in the world withdrew from the Honda Classic golf tourney today (March 1, 2013). because of problems with his wisdom tooth.  He was playing very poorly at the time.  He may have what my son Nathen had.  Read on to decide.

My son Nathen, came to me the other day with a painful tooth on the upper left molar area.    He is a tall and aesthetic young man very active and gifted, especially in soccer which he plays midweek and coaches on the weekends as well.   


As his mother had already booked a dental appointment for the problem, my son came to me perhaps more to inform me of his pain and not necessarily to consult for the causes of the painful tooth syndrome.


Having had a long history working alongside many fine dentists in the Vancouver area during the 70’s and 80’s I was suspicious of the pain syndrome and the clinical course of his dilemma.   During the period of time I was undergoing crown and on lay restorative work for my own mouth I had the good fortune to be linked up with one of the most prominent oral surgeons and teachers at the University of  British Columbia in Canada.  


Because of the time it takes for the procedures of oral reconstruction there was plenty of it to chat about our health interests and we formed a close bond regarding the chiropractic versus conventional dental care of a malfunctioning TMJ, his specialty at the time.   Over the years we then shared numerous patients with this common TMJ problem.


At that same time too I was studying a richly endowed post graduate course in neurology, anatomy, physiology, nutrition and acupuncture called Applied Kinesiology (AK).   Part of the format of the course is to be particular in functional diagnosis, remembering at all times that the human body is what it is.  


A body is not necessarily what someone may tell us what-he-thinks-it-is.   Our body got here by being good at what it does best and seems to be built up on that premise.    Our body eats, from the womb to the tomb, we eat all of the time.   Hence the peculiarity of our anatomy and our interest in the constantly functioning TMJ.


Our body has unique circumstances that sets it apart from all of the other bodies on this planet.   One of them is that our jaw and our bite has to work in the upright standing, or upright sitting position.


The joints of the jaw where they meet the head are located just slightly inferior and anterior to the ear canals. (below and in front of the canals) The hole in the base of our skull for the spinal cord entrance and exit has moved to allow head pitch over the years, to help with upright posture.


Many syndromes of ear and face pain as well as balance problems relate to the mal-positioning of the jaw joint while stress is further cast to and from the skull and the internal structures of the head, neck and shoulders.


These constrictions often compromise the nerves coursing out of several holes or foramina at our skull’s base.   In turn these stressed and restricted autonomic nerves may cause many of our gut and vascular symptoms like blood pressure changes and arrhythmias.   But that day my concern was about the jaw’s position and tooth pain.


Back to Nathen...   I looked inside his mouth and found the tooth involved to be perfectly whole and healthy looking, as were all the rest of them.  Although I could not see or examine between the teeth, by and large there wasn’t any untoward looking cavity, the gums looked healthy and I didn’t see how a dentist could proceed to diminish the pain without outside intervention such as a splint to guard against abnormal occlusion or braces or both.   Far too much of a potpourri for us to get into without first touching more fundamental bases for his tooth pain.


Chiropractors are trained in helping our body get its bones and joints back to their optimal axial alignment.   A healthy body must present just like we would fresh out of the factory.   The factory specifications like the factory blueprints dictate what we structurally should always be like to be healthy, everything working as per design.  


Suspicion that Nathen’s problem of tooth pain may be a symptom of the basic root cause of misalignment of the head, neck and therefore the jaw led to an examination to assess that probability.


A quick history gave rise to the information of his heading the soccer ball rather vigorously during the last game and practice sessions.   That and a few tackles and we have the potential to subluxate or misalign the structures of the upper back and neck and even the head itself.  


Dozens of bones and hundreds of joint surfaces abide in the upper back and neck regions along with hundreds of muscles some particularly small and vulnerable.


But how does turning or twisting, subluxating the TMJ come about?


Think of us this way.   Our head is like a twelve to fifteen pound egg, no pun intended.   Stand the egg up on it’s pointy end and then place it on a flat ring like holder, two surfaces or facets on the top of the holder match two surfaces on the bottom curve of the egg.   The ring like bone that holds the head is the atlas vertebrae.   Remember Greek mythology, “Atlas holds up the world.”  


Now think of the atlas being the top bone of a slightly curved stack of seven bony vertebrae.   Remember them by thinking bones are white, so is snow, “Snow White and the seven neck bones.”  From the rib cage up to the head the seven bones make up our neck.


Let’s now think of the egg standing on the top of the narrow stack of seven bones and the jaw fitting onto the middle of the front of the egg, your face, all the while it is being held in place and driven up and down by muscles coming from the head and face as well as from the front of the stack of bones of the neck, especially around the throat.  


If the placement and axial alignment of all of the structures is true to the factory blueprint and meet those specifications then we have an evenly swinging, opening and closing set of two TMJ’s, one under the left ear and one under the right.


That even swinging and gliding jaw is healthy, but the joints are in line only while the muscles of the face, neck and shoulders are working to potential all of the time.   Think of the strain on this stack of seven bones with the fifteen pound head balancing on top while heading a soccer ball, or falling or in a whiplash accident.


Now let’s take a look at Nathen...   By observing his head alignment from behind one of the ears appeared held lower that the other and was forward in it’s carriage too.   Further, one of the shoulders did similarly in it’s drooping from level position and when he turned his head the lower part of the seven neck bones produced a binding that caused him discomfort at their base.   The seven neck vertebrae couldn’t slide and glide upon one another properly, that reflects stress.


With the neck and head misaligning it becomes clear that the factory blueprints were not represented with Nathen’s carriage, his posture, and that leads to the next step in the diagnosis.


I am a chiropractic Applied Kinesiologist (AK).   That means that AK practitioners test muscles and correlate the findings to determine how to best get the human body back to it’s blueprint potential, all of the weaker muscles working again.  


My findings from manual muscle testing (MMT) help the process of accurately replacing and relocating our bodies boney structures.   When the boney joints are adjusted into their correct positions they allow the nerves to turn the non functioning parts, the weaker muscles, back into functioning parts, thereby meeting health’s potential, all of the parts working.


Nerves nourish but they have to reach the parts unadulterated to make the connection.   Only well nourished nerves enjoying a closed circuit, looping throughout the spine, brain, peripheral and autonomic systems without resistance can then allow the muscles the capacity to do their work under a load, all of the time.


65% of our body is muscle and muscles do the “work.”   Therefore it makes sense to me to manually challenge the workability, the strength, of the muscular parts, one group at a time, comparing left side to right, front to back and see if they are indeed functioning.


A muscle test of Nathen’s neck and upper back showed several individual muscles not responding in a healthy capacity.   Upon testing he was not able to make some of them work on one side while the same muscle was perfectly strong to his command on the other.   Some of them were weakened on both sides.   To be healthy all of them must work to command.


I then proceeded to deeply palpate the spine and ribs noting several places of tenderness and abnormal bone positioning.   With chiropractic adjustments (see column “what is a chiropractic adjustment?”) I painlessly manipulated the misaligned bones of his thoracic spine, the ribs of the upper chest wall along with his head and neck bones into positions more closely relating to the anatomically correct human blueprint.


Manually muscle testing to re-examine his abilities to do work showed that the adjustments had removed the resistances that were weakening the systems and their function returned upon his command.


Remember that nerves nourish and it takes time to nurture tissues back to health once re-enervated.   I told Nathen to give his sore tooth a few days for the jaw to be encouraged to settle into a more appropriate position on the face.  


I was thinking, through years of experience, that the replacement of the boney joints of the vertebrae and ribs, which encouraged the muscles to return to work, would resolve the problem of the tooth pain by correctly shifting pressures away from the overloaded area.   The adjustments had already put his head and drooping shoulders back into balance.


As it turns out we were right.   The next morning Nathen remarked at how the tooth pain has relented and his neck and shoulders were relieved of the “up tight” stressful feeling as well.   And no other reward is greater to a parent than to have their child well and whole again.


We cancelled the extra dental appointment and Nathen hasn’t mentioned his tooth pain again.  


So if your children are active and complain of headaches or stress in the head, neck or shoulders remember Nathen’s story.   Look at your children closely and if they present with winging of the shoulder blades or one shoulder lower than the other, if they present with “sloppy posture” remember Nate’s story again.


Trust your chiropractor.   Chiropractic care is safe, drugless, affordable and painless.   And who knows what de-stressing a spine to-day may prevent from burdening ourselves or our children both now and in the future?

About the author: Dr. Brian Blower has been a licensed chiropractor for over 40 years practicing Applied Kinesiology and has been in private practice on Grand Bahama Island for the past 15 years. He is a founding member of Applied Kinesiology Canada and was educated at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College. He is a founding member of the Bahamas Association of Chiropractic. He has treated many celebrities and also specializes in sports medicine.  He can be reached at 242-351-5424/ 727-2454.  You can also find Dr. Blower on Facebook HERE

Feel free to contact Dr. Blower with any of your questions or comments at BodyByBlower@yahoo.com

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