Are Your Parkinson’s Symptoms caused by Jaw Malalignment?
Dwight Jennings, DDS, MICCMO
This sounds like a simple question to pose. Yet it is one for which you can not readily find a reliable answer. It is the purpose of the upcoming symposium to inform and educate professionals and the public alike as to how to answer this question to the best of our current knowledge.
Jaw malalignment (TMJ, TMD, cranio-mandibular dysfunction, etc) occurs when the muscles posturing the lower jaw want the jaw to be in a place somewhat different than where the teeth support the jaw. Jaw malalignment is poorly understood by the vast majority of dentists, and even less by the medical profession. Few dentists know how to check for a bite/muscle discrepancy. Most health practitioners are unaware of the means by which jaw malalignment can cause the many symptoms attributed to Parkinson’s disease, hence they never consider jaw malalignment when making a differential diagnosis. So where do you find the answer?
Odds are that you have a significant jaw malalignment as approximately 70% of the population is afflicted due to suspected multigenerational nutritional insufficiencies. Certain medical conditions increase your likely hood of having a bad bite, for example: if you have airway issues, your probability is greater than 95% that you have a significant jaw malalignment. If you have multiple medical issues, your probability of having a bad bite increases significantly (high medical utilization is known to be associated with jaw malalignment). If you have headaches, autoimmune disorder, skin disorders, or chronic pain, you have a very high probability of jaw malalignment.
If you have many of the following conditions often associated with Parkinson’s, then it would behoove you to have your bite checked by a trained professional as these conditions are often associated with jaw malalignment.
Trigeminal proprioceptors (alignment sensors in jaw muscles) are known to modulate the golgi tendon apparatus systemically (i.e. when the bite is off, the brain knows it and can cause muscles systemically to tighten up). This has been extensively investigated in Japan, typically showing that when the bite is compromised (loss of height on posterior teeth) on laboratory animals on one side of their body, the other side contracts and becomes rigid, thus causing scoliosis.
Weakness: Muscle weakness is present in early signs of Parkinson’s disease. It has been demonstrated in multiple studies that the bite can have a profound effect on systemic muscle strength.
Depression/Anxiety: There is extensive literature associating TMJ (temporomandibular joint dysfunction) with depression. This is thought to be caused by multiple pathways including trigeminal nerve modulation of sensory input into the limbic brain, and pain neuropeptide modulation of brain neurotransmitters.
Fatigue: Fatigue is a symptom that is frequently reported with jaw malalignment. Multiple dentists have reported a very high degree of success in reversing Chronic Fatigue symptoms with bite therapy (greater than 85%).
Dizziness/fainting: The trigeminal nerve is known to control blood flow to the brain through what is called the trigeminal-vascular complex. Excess trigeminal stimulation has been demonstrated to cause dizziness and fainting. A recent study has shown that inadequate molar support caused on average 40 % decrease in blood flow to the brain with clenching.
Loss of smell: Few medical personnel are aware that we have two noses: the olfactory and the trigeminal chemoreceptors. Research has shown that these two systems are interdependent. Hence, with trigeminal disturbance from bite dysfunction, it is easy to see how smell could be affected.
Imbalance: The vestibular system, which controls balance, receives input from a wide variety of sources. The trigeminal nerve, with its massive sensory component (28% of sensory cortex), is a major contributor to vestibular function. Hence, when trigeminal nerve tonicity is disturbed, it has the potential to cause imbalance. The vestibular system in known to communicate by substance P whose levels are disturbed with bad bites.
Insomnia: The trigeminal nerve tonicity level becomes elevated with cranio-mandibular dysfunction. The trigeminal nerve has a major influence on the reticular activating system in the brain stem, which controls the activation level of the brain. The trigeminal proprioceptors in the mesencephalic nucleus are known to modulate the pineal gland, hence effecting sleep/wake cycles. Also, trigeminal disturbance has a significant effect on serotonin levels, which effects sleep.
Masked Face: The trigeminal nerve is known to have the ability to modulate muscles of facial expression. This I have seen demonstrated numerous times clinically when chronic Bell’s palsy symptoms resolve with jaw orthopedic therapy.
Scoliosis: Scoliosis is known to occur more frequently with Parkinson’s disease than with the general public. Scoliosis is also known to be caused by bite disturbance.
Cognitive Decline: Extensive research has shown that bite dysfunction leads to rapid decline in cognitive function.
Hence, if you are experiencing these symptoms, your probability of having a significant malalignment in your bite is increased even further.