Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I was surprised and intrigued to come across an article this week about TMJ and Cranial-Sacral Work…. for horses. It was of particular interest since I had just spent last week training with Dr. Michelle Walker, a chiropractor from Missouri that specializes in cranial-sacral work in humans. I flew her in to teach myself, and a local chiropractor, Dr. Alan Juel, more about how to co-treat complex TMJ, back, neck and pain cases for optimum results.

The article was written by Maureen Rodgers and she uses the same principles to treat horses and dogs that we use in treating people with TMJ or what we call “Dental Distress Syndrome”. Here’s an excerpt from her article. “I urge you to take a close look at your horses TMJ functioning. It can be easily overlooked. As I said earlier in this article I consider it the “Master Link” in the chain of healthy equine biomechanics and movement. I see far too many hocks and backs get injected that actually have TMD; although there will often be some temporary improvement especially if corticosteroids are used, after a while the imbalance shows up somewhere else, often the feet or neck. Unkink the master link and be sure the feet are balanced and you will see the life force flow through your horse’s entire body. You may still have body work to do and old postural compensations to correct, but it is much more possible for the horse to achieve a state of self perpetrating wellness, vitality, and strength with a healthy happy TMJ. This is homeostasis, every cell in the body has a built in intelligence to allow well being, it is natural and it is where they want and need to be.

She goes on to explain…
The Stomatognathic System and Guzay’s Theorem
The TMJ Mechanism connects to the body through an intricate system known as the Stomatognathic System. The Stomatognathic System consists of the parts of the head, the neck, and the upper thorax. This system is concerned with muscular, osseous (bone), ligamentous, fascial and nervous system control of biting, chewing and swallowing, and is comprised of twenty-seven bones, one of those bones being the mandible. Thus, each part must be addressed to truly treat any TMD condition. However, another joint area that is connected to and highly affected by the condition of the TMJ is that of the atlantoaxial joint. This is the area where the atlas, the first cervical vertebra (C1), articulates with the axis, the second cervical vertebra (C2).

Side view of a retrusion of the mandible, TMD - the masseter muscle here shows slight atrophy and other muscles have started to compensate for this. Guzay's Theorem. a: mandible, b: temporal bone, c: condyle, d: occiput, e: atlantoaxial joint
Guzay’s Theorem states that the atlantoaxial axis of rotation acts as the primary joint for mastication/ chewing. Although the TMJ, in the immediate structural and physiological sense, seems to be the axis of rotation of the mandible, a deeper look shows that the TMJ acts as the secondary joint of mastication. These two joints, the TMJ and the atlantoaxial joint, interact in every moment to provide healthy function for the mandible (see diagram). To properly address any TMD condition, it must be treated holistically, attending to the whole Stomatognathic System. Treatment that does not address all parts will not rectify a dysfunctional component of the Stomatognathic System; treating a singular area will only achieve a rearrangement of symptoms. This is the reason that, although it is a vital component, dental work alone will not resolve most TMD conditions.

These are the very principles we use (plus Low Level Laser energy medicine, chiropractic, nutrition and lifestyle) in our “Destination Dentistry” program to relieve headaches, migraines, ringing in the ears, dizziness, back pain, neck pain, fingers that fall asleep at night, snoring, sleep apnea and other chronic degenerative conditions.
In my opinion it is nonsense to take better care of your animals than you do of yourself. So use your good “horse sense” and give us a call today at 605.342.0989 and let us help you achieve “homeostasis” and optimum health.
As an incentive to take action, we will be giving away a FREE VIRTUAL CONSULTATION, valued at $500, to the first three inquiries.