The link between oral health and whole body health and wellbeing is the realm of biological dentists. Oral bacteria is associated with periodontal disease and other conditions through the body such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, diabetes, and PCOS. Biological dentists and naturopathic doctors share the belief that our bodies possess an innate ability to self-heal, when proper structure and function are maintained. Symptoms arise when balance is disrupted by toxins ranging from infections to mercury to emotions.
An energetic model of the body, such as with Integrative Body Psychotherapy, further emphasizes the relationship between the mind and the mouth / jaw. As infants, before developing our fine motor hand skills, we interacted with the world largely through our mouths, i.e. latching onto our mother’s breast or sticking objects inside at random. The mouth is not just machinery for eating, it also provides a means for expression, aggression, respiration, and sexuality. It’s a very vulnerable area because of its multifaceted role. When an energetic release occurs here, a flood of emotions can be released.
In this video, there are 4 self-release techniques for increasing feelings of wellbeing and aliveness in the facial muscles, jaw, and tongue, which can expand to the rest of the body:
- Mouth Massage with Tongue: run tongue along gums and inside of cheeks
- Lion’s Breath: inhale through your nose / mouth and exhale while sticking your tongue out and looking up–I consider this a “power” pose
- Controlled Yawn: support your chin with a fist and apply resistance as you open up
- TMJ Tracking Exercise: sitting in front of the mirror, slowly and straightly open and close your mouth with your tongue against your soft palate. Hold for 5 sec., relax for 5 sec.; repeat.
More direct approaches that involve stripping the muscles of mastication (e.g., medial and lateral pterygoids) with a gloved hand may release more emotion than one can contain, while Botox injections into the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) are only a temporary fix (as well as source of toxins).
Bruxism (teeth grinding or clenching) is worsened and caused most often by stress. It damages the enamel and TMJ, causes tension headaches, facial pain, and even teeth fractures or loss. Other causes of bruxism include teeth misalignment and TMJ disorders, which produce jaw pain or stiffness and audible pops and clicks. Bruxism, along with jaw injury / deterioration (e.g., trauma, arthritis, osteoporosis), infection (gingivitis, periodontitis), and genetics, contribute to gum recession by causing demineralization of the underlying jaw bone. Remineralization is possible as long as the overall structure is intact and the root cause is addressed early. Oral products like CoQ10 and hydroxyapatite supplements / toothpastes as well as anything with trace minerals (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus) like those found in natural hygiene products and alkaline foods also help by reducing inflammation and acidity, and restoring healthy saliva!
Other Tips to prevent TMJ issues:
– cut up large pieces of food (e.g., apples, big sandwiches / burgers)
– don’t chew gum and avoid tough, gummy foods
– wear a mouthguard / night guard as needed to avoid injury / repetitive stress
– brush with your non-dominant hand, floss, and see your dental professional regularly
– treat underlying / associated conditions: sleep apnea, GERD, etc.
– feel and manage your emotions
A holistic approach to mouth and jaw issues can go a long way in rebalancing the whole body.