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Proprioception to the Brain

 

Proper Dental Muscles Alignment Is The Key

By: Dr. Larry Lytle

Editors Note:

Proprioception is an important phenomenon to understand in the world of wellness. It is our body's natural defensive mechanism for saving ourselves from harm. It is not voluntary, but the immediate interaction between our brain and our involuntary response in our muscles. Many individuals may have detrimental effects to their body movement and posture as a result of poor proprioception leading to an imbalance of sympathetic over parasympathetic responses which places inordinate stressors on our system.

Amazingly, as embryos, our mouth is formed in conjunction with our brain and central nervous system, particularly our jaws and teeth. The key to many ailments may lie with proper alignment of jaw muscles to correct an erroneous proprioceptive response.

Among Dr. Larry Lytle's many credits is that he was a dentist and is an expert on proprioception. He explains the causes and cures…

 

 

One could ask where the brain gets its information to do all that it does. It is thought that it would take a gymnasium full of modern computers to accomplish the brain's functions. The brain gets much of its information or feedback from proprioception or kinesthetics. There is considerable speculation as to just how the brain does function. Einstein estimated that most well educated people use less than 10% of their brains. One thing that is known, the brain never forgets anything, including accidents, injury and other events which continue to negatively affect our lives. Reprogramming the brain is difficult and about the only thing that has worked is biofeedback. However, in many cases biofeedback is slow and inconsistent.


"By challenging your brain, just as you challenge your body in physical exercise, your brain will learn to function better."
Biofeedback is a learning strategy that enables persons to alter their brain waves. When information about a person's own brain wave characteristics is made available, changes can occur. Think of it as exercise for the brain. Neurofeedback is a technique in which we train the brain to help improve its ability to regulate bodily functions and to take care of itself. When the brain is not functioning well, evidence of faulty function shows up on an EEG (Electroencephalogram).

By challenging your brain, just as you challenge your body in physical exercise, your brain will learn to function better. Much of the biofeedback occurs via the muscles, so this process could be called neuromuscular biofeedback. A better functioning brain can improve sleep patterns, control anxiety, depression, migraine or chronic pain. A better functioning brain can improve attention, enhance learning, manage the emotions and decrease aging.

Dr. Rodolfo Llinas, a professor at New York University Medical School and a leading researcher in Neuroscience, has suggested that varied psychiatric and neurological conditions could be attributed simply to "thalamocortical dysrythmias," a pathological disruption of the continuity of rhythmic brain processes that underpin behavior. One reason the brain does not respond to biofeedback is that the "cause" of the faulty signal to the brain has not been corrected and this is often tight muscles.

Muscles that are constantly tight or in trismus send faulty signals to the brain. Biofeedback is supposed to release tight muscles and allow the brain to reprogram. An easier, simpler technique is to release tight muscles with a combination of low level laser therapy and proprioceptive guides which will eliminate the cause of faulty brain signals much quicker than other biofeedback techniques.


"Proprioception is defined stimulation to tissue in order for the body to protect itself."

Proprioception

Proprioceptions saves us from harm

Proprioception is defined stimulation to tissue in order for the body to protect itself. Much is known about proprioception in the feet and hands. If you are barefoot and step on broken glass, you will immediately lift your foot. The muscles in one leg tighten to lift the foot and the muscles in the other leg splint to support your weight. Or, if you touch an electrical wire, you instantly, without thinking, jerk your hand away. These are examples of how the voluntary muscles are involuntarily controlled through proprioception via the muscles and ligaments. When muscles are fatigued from constant over use, signals are sent to the brain to tighten up more and the vicious circle is repeated.


"The delicate proprioception between the lower jaw and upper skull has a great deal to do with your overall health or lack of it. "
As aware as we are of the types of proprioception listed above, most people, including many professionals, are not aware that the most delicate proprioception in the entire body is in the mouth, specifically between the upper and lower front teeth. Proprioception between your front teeth is so delicate that you can tell the difference between the thickness of an eyelash and an eye brow, or as little as 1/1,000,000th of an inch! The delicate proprioception between the lower jaw and upper skull (jaw) has a great deal to do with your overall health or lack of it.

We are not talking about bite, occlusion or tempromandibular joint (TMJ) problems. You may have what is recognized as a "normal" or acquired bite and have no TMJ problems. You may still have faulty proprioception to the brain from the way the 68 pairs of muscles that control the position of the lower jaw have to work to keep that acquired bite or occlusion.

Over 50% Of the Biofeedback to the Brain Originates in 68 Pairs of Dental Muscles

Proprioception affects visual interpretations, sensory interpretations that deal with touch, taste, sound, and speech as well as motor functions that deal with all movements of the body. This includes hands, arms, shoulders, feet, legs and hips. Even the length of the stride is controlled by proprioception to the brain. Just putting in place a proprioceptive guide or properly designed mouth splint is enough to lengthen the stride. Over 50% of the biofeedback to the brain originates in the 68 pairs of "dental muscles" that are called upon constantly to correct the "trapped mandible" syndrome. Proprioception controls incoming stimuli and integrates that stimuli to control outgoing body responses. The brain operates like a big master computer; "garbage in" equals "garbage out".

"Your upper front teeth are extensions of the brain and spinal cord, which helps to explain their delicate relationship to proprioception and control of the brain."
Embryologically, let's look at how this delicate proprioceptive balance happens.

The neural tube continues to develop forming not only the central nervous system (CNS), but also ½ the master pituitary gland, the thalamus and the hypothalamus, the spinal cord, outgrowths of the forebrain and these oral structures: the mid-nose, the upper lip, the pre-maxilla and the four maxillary upper incisors. Therefore, your upper front teeth are extensions of the brain and spinal cord, which helps to explain their delicate relationship to proprioception and control of the brain.

Simultaneously, with the development of the neural tube, the neural crest is developing. It forms the peripheral nervous system (PNS), all the sensory receptors, the other half of the pituitary gland, all the other hormonal glands and the balance of the oral systems except tooth enamel. This means all the back teeth are extensions of the part of the brain that controls the autonomic nervous system. Teeth, particularly the back teeth, are so important that dentists need to be neurologists of the highest order. Unfortunately, dental schools have not yet accepted this responsibility. They have left this educational area to the medical schools. While medical doctors are aware of this delicate developmental process, they, too, have mostly ignored it because it is "out of their area". Consequently, proprioception to the brain from the muscles that control the mandible is a serious problem with no medical home.

Almost Half of the Sensory And Motor Aspects of The Brain Are Devoted to The Dental Area

Penfield and Rasmussen, Neurologists in the 1950s, have stated: "almost half of the sensory and motor aspects of the brain are devoted to the dental area." Knowing this, it is easier to understand that faulty proprioception from the muscles that control the mandible also regulates the thalamus, which is considered the control center of the brain. The thalamus controls the cerebellum and thus the body's posture. If you see a person's head tipped to one side, or tipped forward with one shoulder higher than the other and, in most cases, one leg shorter than the other, faulty proprioception to the brain may be the cause.

Since the thalamus also regulates the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that is considered responsible for the stress mechanism, the term dental distress syndrome is more meaningful. Dr. Alfred Fonder, a true pioneer in the relationship of the jaws to the brain, while not mentioning the word proprioception, explains it as loss of posterior support in his book The Dental Physician. Dr. Hans Selye, the father of the modern stress theory, states in the introduction to the Dental Distress Syndrome: "Stress, particularly stress of dental origin, pervades man's life in health and disease. Medicine would benefit by a closer alliance between members of the medical and dental professions." Unfortunately, Dr. Selye died, and without his prominent influence, this alliance has not yet happened.

Teeth are important to proprioception To recap, the thalamus controls the cerebellum, which controls posture; also the hypothalamus, which controls the stress mechanism. The thalamus gets over 50% of its input via proprioception from the 68 pairs (136 individual muscles) of "dental muscles". These dental muscles are forced to work overtime in order to maintain the relationship and movement of the mandible (lower jaw) to the skull. These 68 pairs of muscles must function at their endowed contracting/relaxation lengths and be in reciprocal balance in order not to send faulty proprioceptive signals on to the brain. These important dental muscles determine head, cervical, shoulder and jaw position and exert significant control on the sympathetic nervous system and parasympathetic nervous systems. If there are structural, endocrine or organ health problems, all practitioners should look at the dental muscles first. Are they in homeostasis?

This raises a huge question: "Why are these muscles out of balance?"

To get this answer we must refer to Price and Pottenger's pioneering research studies in nutrition. Dr. Price, a dentist, and Dr. Pottenger, a medical doctor, in the 1930s performed experiments that showed that cats on refined or cooked food diets had progressively narrowing skulls and narrowing upper dental arches compared to cats on raw food diets. Dr. Price continued his research on humans and studied many tribes on primitive islands in the Pacific. His observations were the same as with the cat studies, i.e., refined food diets resulted in narrowing of the skull and upper dental arch. When this landmark research is combined with the genetics of combined races, there is a noticeable destructive narrowing of the skull and the maxillary arch, particularly a narrowing of the pre-maxilla.


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