According to Dr. A. Fonder in the Dental Physician, Dental Distress Syndrome (DDS) is a result of a dysfunctional occlusion (relationship of the upper and lower dental arches) that can create disturbances throughout distant areas of the body. It can be caused by:
- Loss of one or more teeth
- Loss of vertical dimension
- Excessive tooth wear
- An underdeveloped upper jaw
The relationship of the maxilla to the mandible and the occlusion can affect over 50% of the body functions, including motor and sensory controls, blood supply to the brain, and electrical feedback to the brain. In Cerebral Cortex of Man (McMillan, 1950), it states that over 50% of the brain is related to the dental area. Stressful malocclusion results in much intermittent dental distress, giving erroneous feedback to the brain, constantly upsetting the balance of the body’s systems, and reducing blood flow to the brain. People with DDS typically may complain of one or many of the following:
- Pain or tenderness of the TMJ area
- Difficulty in opening or closing the mouth
- Hearing loss
- Frequent urination
- Kidney and bladder complications
- Cold hands and feet
- Back and leg aches
- Body posture problems
DDS is a dominant stressor of the body. Elimination of DDS can reverse many of these chronic conditions if caused by faulty proprioception. Faulty proprioception also affects the 5th cranial nerve, which serves the lower jaw. This nerve has both motor and sensory functions and affects over 50% of the body’s functions. The arteries and the veins that bring blood to and from your brain flow directly through 68 pairs of “dental muscles.” When the muscles become tight due to DDS, blood flow to the brain and the pituitary gland is reduced. Loss of posterior teeth or height of posterior teeth allows the front teeth to touch too soon, which activates the sympathetic system (SNS) of the body and decreases the parasympathetic system (PNS). Overstimulation of the SNS results in:
- Increased body activity
- Increased stress
- Increased heart and breathing rates
- Decreased glandular, stomach, and intestinal activity
Is DDS affecting you? Most people are familiar with the more common types of proprioception – for example, unconsciously pulling your hand away from a hot stove, or quickly and unconsciously lifting your foot if you step on a tack. Very few people realize (as the photo to the right shows) that the teeth and jaws are extensions of the brain and spinal cord, and that the most delicate proprioception in your body is between the upper and lower front teeth. How Do I Know If I Have Faulty Dental Proprioception or DDS? There are several dental conditions that practically assure that you will have faulty dental proprioception and/or dental distress syndrome:
- If you have lost all or part of your lower back teeth on one or both sides of the jaw
- If you have a deep overbite with short back teeth
- Anyone with excessive freeway space between the upper and lower jaws
The following symptoms are also signs of faulty dental proprioception and/or dental distress syndrome:
- Persistent headaches or persistent neck, shoulder, or back pain
- Postural changes such as one shoulder higher than the other, one leg shorter than the other, or the head tipped to one side
- Endocrine disturbances
- Memory loss
- Clicking in the jaw joint
- Sensitive teeth
- Loss of hearing or ringing in the ears
There are also three simple self-tests that you can perform that will help you determine whether you might have faulty dental proprioception to the brain. Self-Test #1 – Your Upper & Lower Front Teeth
- Tear or cut a small strip of paper to a size that is approximately 1” wide by several inches long.
- Put the strip of paper between your upper and lower front teeth.
- Close your jaw naturally – leaving the paper between your teeth.
- Keeping your jaw closed (but lips open), attempt to pull the strip of paper out of your mouth.
- If, when you attempt to pull the paper out of your mouth, it sticks between your upper and lower front teeth, it is likely that you suffer form faulty dental proprioception and/or dental distress syndrome.
Self-Test #2 – Your Shoulder Alignment
- Stand in front of a full-length mirror – preferably without shoes.
- Shrug your upper body and shoulders around, and then let everything “settle in.”
- Look in the mirror at your shoulders.
- If one of your shoulders is higher than the other, it is likely that you may be suffering from faulty dental proprioception and/or dental distress syndrome.
Self-Test #3 – Testing For Sore Muscles Using your right hand for the right side of your body (or left hand for the left side), check for sore muscles in the following locations. If you have sore muscles in any of these spots, you likely have faulty dental proprioception and/or dental distress syndrome. Check the muscle just underneath your collarbone, approximately 3 finger widths in from the armpit and 3 finger widths below the collarbone. Using your index and middle finger, press in a rolling action and check for soreness. Using a “chokehold” grip, place your thumb against your neck as if you were checking your pulse. Once the pulse is found, slide your thumb up to your jawbone and press inward and upward. Press firmly on this muscle, starting at the angle of the jaw and moving forward to the chin. This is the Internal Pterygoid muscle, and it should not be sore. Using your index finger, slide it inside your cheek, upwards and backwards along the root tips of the upper 1st and 2nd molars, clear to the back of the mouth where the wisdom tooth is (or used to be). Press upwards firmly. This is the External Pterygoid muscle, and it should not be sore. Note: if either of the muscles above is sore, it is likely that you may be suffering from faulty dental proprioception and/or dental distress syndrome, and it is possible that you may also be experiencing reduced blood supply to the brain! DDS information courtesy of Larry Lytle, DDS. See www.laserinformation.com.
We welcome you to contact our knowledgeable holistic dentist, Dr. James M. Heltzel, today to learn more about dental distress syndrome in Las Vegas, Nevada.