About half of all Americans, no matter how healthy they are, are more likely to develop oral health problems.
Women need to be aware that they are at higher risk for periodontal disease and gum disease during puberty, pregnancy, their menstrual cycle each month, and then menopause—let’s face it, we’re at risk most of our lives. We now also know there is a correlation between high hormone levels in the body and inflammation in the gums surrounding the teeth as well as in the epidemic numbers of the disorder fibromyalgia—which afflicts mostly women.
When hormone levels are very high, women can be more sensitive to a small amount of plaque or bacteria. For example, if you weren’t pregnant, and you forgot to floss for a couple of days, it probably wouldn’t be an issue. But if you’re pregnant and forget to floss, and plaque collects, you can develop swollen, painful growths in your gums that otherwise probably wouldn’t manifest as quickly.
Being pregnant and having periodontal disease may also put your baby at risk. Studies show that pregnant women with periodontal disease have higher risk of premature labor and low birth weight. Scientists believe this occurs due to the inflammation and bacteria in the mouth that makes its way into the bloodstream. Author’s Note: A myth voiced by most dentists in years past is that pregnancy does not create more cavities; given the above data, that is not a correct assumption.
A Timely Connection
A few years ago I was honored to be invited to experience and consult with a globally-respected integrative medical hospital, medical and dental clinic and spa, located on the Pacific coast in Baja California.
Having worked in the clinical and research dental field for eleven years myself, with my investigative “eye” continually searching to find a link between soft and connective tissue disorders like fibromyalgia and dental health, I was introduced to the director of the dental clinic, Walter De La O, DDS. The following are notes taken during discussions with Dr. De La O and his clinical experiences and methodologies for the potential connection of the oral cavity (mouth) to fibromyalgia, as discussed during my investigative visit and later validated in my clients’ experiences when their oral health issues were resolved.
Fibromyalgia and Mercury… Dr. De LA O and I both agree that we have observed a strong relationship between fibromyalgia and the health and alignment of the oral cavity—as evidenced by clinical observation and research. There are many dental factors in play in disorders like fibromyalgia. This summary represents only a few “clues” as underlying contributing causes that my investigative work has uncovered.
We KNOW the health-depleting effects of mercury amalgam fillings (silver fillings), which can be very toxic for the body— releasing mercury in the form of toxic vapors. This vapor release from mercury occurs every time the teeth make contact with one another (occlusion), when the pH of the saliva is altered, when friction is created on the teeth, or when the temperature inside the mouth is raised. This means that every time we are eating, swallowing (saliva or food), chewing, clenching/grinding, brushing our teeth or even smoking, we are potentially exposed to mercury vapors from our amalgam filling—which is most of the time.
Toxic levels of mercury can cause or exacerbate the following, but definitely not limited to:
- autoimmune diseases (i.e., lupus, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue, cancer etc.)
- infections (i.e., chronic vaginal yeast in women, jock itch in men, sinus infection, swollen glands, thrush, etc.)
- unexplained chronic fatigue
- nerve impairment
- memory problems, decreased mental clarity, brain-fog
- bowel disorders (chronic constipation, IBS, Crohn’s, etc.)
- anxiety, panic disorders, ADD/ADHD, autism, Asperger’s syndrome
- emotional outbursts and instability
- soft and connective tissue pain (fibromyalgia, arthritis, rheumatism, etc.)
- migraine headaches
- insomnia and sleep disorders
- autoimmune autoimmune disorders
- sluggish lymphatic system and swollen/tender lymph nodes and;
- many other disorders that are seemingly unrelated.
When the mercury vapors enter our body, they get deposited in various organs. Once they are stored, they begin generating free-radicals—the accumulations of both have been known contributing factors in disorders like fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia and TMJS…
In addition, there is another contributing factor to consider if you have fibromyalgia—temporo-mandibular joint syndrome (TMJS).
The following is a summary by Dr. Wesley Shankland, author of over 65 publications on TMJS and facial pain, and president of the American Academy of Head, Neck, and Facial Pain. His statement and methodologies about TMJS and fibromyalgia are important to consider:
Fibromyalgia is a chronic, painful muscle and nerve condition characterized by pain in the skeletal muscles, tendons (which attach muscles to bone), ligaments (which attach bones to bones) and bursa (sac-like structures which are filled with synovial fluid and provide lubrication and nutrition to joints).
Symptoms of fibromyalgia are characterized by generalized muscle soreness and stiffness lasting more than three months, poor sleep with morning fatigue and stiffness, tenderness at 11 of 18 specific sites and ‘normal’ blood test results. The more common painful areas include the low cervical spine, the shoulders, the second rib, the arms, the buttocks and the knees.
Many other physical conditions are also found frequently with fibromyalgia. Each of these can, and does occur separately; however, they are also quite commonly associated with fibromyalgia.
Many patients suffering with TMJS also suffer with fibromyalgia. Unfortunately, many doctors don’t recognize either TMJS or fibromyalgia or fail to see the connection of these two pain syndromes. Fibromyalgia almost always intensifies the painful symptoms of TMJS and when one or both temporo-mandibular joints are dislocated, the pain of fibromyalgia in the neck and upper back is greatly magnified. Both TMJS and fibromyalgia produce similar painful symptoms in the muscles of the neck, shoulders, back, face and head as well as often causing dizziness.
Fibromyalgia and Oral Health—The Biting Reality
Body Balance and Alignment
We are now aware that proper balancing of the body starts at your feet and how you actually take steps. Body balance and alignment will also depend on the length of your legs, position of your hips, deviation of the vertical spine and the balance of your shoulders.
This balance doesn’t end in the shoulders; it ends in your head. Your head is supported and balanced by the vertical spine. This balancing, or alignment, also extends to the lower jaw, the mandible, being the only bone with mobility that is articulated/ hinged to the skull.
The mandible has 3 pairs of muscles that elevate it: the masseter, the medial pterygoid and the temporalis. There are also four muscles that depress the mandible: the digastric, the geniohyoid, the mylohyoid and lateral pterygoid. In addition, there are other muscles that are active during the complex grinding actions of chewing.
Important Muscles of the Head and Oral Cavity
A muscle in the cheek that moves the jaws during chewing. If you experience upper body pain and inflammation, be sure to have your biological dentist check your bite (occlusion) to see if the pain is originating from mal-aligned of the jaw.
Masseter Muscle of the Jaw
In humans, the masseter is the MOST powerful muscle of the body, with a record bite of 990 pounds observed in a man who suffered an epileptic seizure, which caused him to bite uncontrollably—shattering most of his teeth. Were the teeth of a human able to withstand the sufficient pressure, a human could bite a hole into an automobile tire inflated to 65 psi, chew up a cinder block, or bite through the rings or chain of a pair of handcuffs.
The Biting Pain
Muscles of the Head and Jaw
Your masseter muscle is your primary chewing muscle, and it covers the sides of the jaw just behind the cheeks. It’s also the muscle that makes you clench your jaw and grind your teeth, unfortunately, and it may be the single most common location for trigger points (muscle or fibro knots) in the entire human body. It is an accomplice in pretty much every case of chronic jaw clenching, bruxism (that’s Latin for “grinding your teeth”), and temporo-mandibular joint syndrome (a painful condition of the jaw joint).
The masseter muscle is often underestimated by the public and health care professionals alike (although I’m pleased to see a surprisingly strong interest in the subject among biological dentists and holistic practitioners). When irritated, the masseter’s muscle knots can cause and/or aggravate several problems including, but certainly not limited to:
- Headaches, of course—this makes intuitive sense to most people.
- Pain/Inflammation—especially felt in the neck, face, shoulders and upper back.
- Earaches and Toothaches—which are much less obvious. A masseter trigger point can refer pain directly into a tooth, leading to disastrous results for an innocent tooth.
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and dizziness—both can be serious and complex problems, and are not necessarily caused by masseter trigger points. There are many other potential contributing factors—but the masseter is always a likely suspect that should be considered.
- Bruxism—a grinding and cracking of molars.
- Temporo-mandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)—a slow, painful failure of jaw joint function.
Romancing the Masseter
The therapy known as Perfect Spot No. 7 is extremely effective massage therapy for most jaw problems including bruxism, jaw clenching and TMJ syndrome. Fortunately, this procedure is extremely easy for the practitioner and just as much for the patient for self-therapy.
The masseter muscle “hangs” from the underside of the cheekbone on the side of the face. The bottom of the muscle attaches to a broad area on the side of the jawbone.
The Masseter Notch
Perfect Spot No. 7 is conveniently located in a notch in the cheekbone, about one inch in front of your ears. The notch is on the underside of the cheekbone, it’s easy to find, and your thumb or fingertip will fit into it nicely, unless you have extremely large hands and fingers.
If you press firmly inward and upwards with your thumb in this particular notch you will be rewarded with a sweet ache. The rest of the muscle, however, tends to feel like not much, or unpleasantly tender. Although the entire muscle can and should be rubbed gently, the Perfect Spot is definitely limited to that upper edge of the muscle.
Note: The Perfect Spot Therapy is based primarily on the research and writing of Drs. Janet Travell and David Simons— pioneers of myofascial pain syndrome research. Dr. Travell expired in 1997 after decades of tireless efforts to educate her medical colleagues about trigger points and the benefit of massage.
The existence and importance of trigger points is NOT scientifically controversial, but it is obscure—the challenge is to get the word out. Doctors and dentists are generally uninformed about musculoskeletal health care—it simply isn’t on their radar. According to Dr. Simons, “Muscle is an orphan organ. No medical specialty claims it.”
Perfect Spot No. 7 is a sturdy piece of anatomy, so don’t be afraid to work steadily up to hard pressure—if that’s what it seems to want, listen to what it’s telling you! Either constant pressure or small, kneading circles are both appropriate. Since this spot is so tough, another good trick is to use a knuckle for extra pressure, or even a small wooden ball with a handle like the opposite end of a wood spiral honey-dipper.
Fibromyalgia is a complex syndrome involving many triggers—some of them currently being discovered. What we do know in wholistic health is that when you begin to understand the connection to oral and intestinal health and overall body burden, we can then begin to solve the puzzle and regain quality of life…I did and so have the thousands of clients I’ve guided to wellness worldwide when everything else either didn’t provide relief or made them worse from toxic side-effects. Be informed; take charge of your health, Naturally.