Occams razor is a principle of parsimony and succinctness used in problem-solving. It states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Other, more complicated solutions may ultimately prove correct, but—in the absence of certainty—the fewer assumptions that are made, the better. Diagnostic parsimony advocates that when diagnosing a given injury, ailment, illness, or disease a doctor should strive to look for the fewest possible causes that will account for all the symptoms.

Hypothesis: Cranio-mandibular dysfunction is the cause of most cases of Parkinson’s disease.

Over half the population has a significant cranio-mandibular dysfunction. It is known that the upper and lower jaw have been receding on humans for the past 20,000 years. This receding jaw is now to such a point that airway obstruction is quite prevalent (snoring, sleep apnea). There are many videos on YouTube showing dramatic improvement in cases diagnosed as Parkinson’s through bite therapy. Emma Thornton, in her 2008 doctoral thesis, showed that she could reverse experimental Parkinson’s with a substance P antagonist (substance P, the neurotransmitter for pain signals to the brain, becomes elevated with cranio-mandibular dysfunction). Hence, I believe that cranio-mandibular dysfunction is a primary suspect as to the cause of Parkinson’s. Knowing the correct causation of Parkinson’s is important from a treatment perspective.

Over one million people in the United States suffer from Parkinson’s disease. Though remarkable advances have been made in uncovering the pathogenesis, the etiology is speculative. Parkinson’s disease is associated with a very wide assortment of symptoms. Besides the primary motor symptoms (bradykinesia, resting tremor, rigidity, poor posture), Parkinson’s is known to have many non-motor symptoms: decreased brain blood flow, disturbance in substance P levels, sleep problems, reduced sense of smell, rhinorrhea, allergies, sinus problems, retinal alterations, cognitive impairment, accelerated bone loss, blink reflex defects, and increased prevalence of autonomic nervous system disturbances. Cranio-mandibular dysfunction causes a disturbance in trigeminal nerve tone, which can have very broad effects as this nerve interfaces with the brain in many ways. The many symptoms of Parkinson’s can be accounted for by various trigeminal nerve interactions:

Motor symptoms: Recent publications have implicated dental orthopedic dysfunction as the cause of many types of movement disorders (Parkinson’s, Tourette’s, dystonia, torticollis, and scoliosis). Extensive research on bite destruction in animals shows that lowering bite causes scoliosis and increased rigidity. Stimulation of the reticular formation (which has massive trigeminal proprioceptive input) is known to cause Parkinsonian tremors, rigidity, and movement inhibition. Substance P is known to be a major modulator of movement.

Decreased brain blood flow: Trigeminal nerve modulates brain blood flow through what is known as trigeminal vascular system. One study showed that for people missing their molars, clenching caused on average 40% reduction in brain blood flow. It is through influence of the trigeminal nerve on brain blood flow that causes a boxer to pass out when hit in the jaw.

Disturbance in substance P levels: The trigeminal nerve has on average one hundred times more dense “c fibers”- a primary source of substance P. Hence, anything that activates the trigeminal nerve (e.g. cranio-mandibular disturbance) causes increased levels of substance P. Elevated substance P levels has been shown to be detrimental to neuronal survival. Microglial activation by substance P has been implicated as a pivotal factor in the development of Parkinson’s disease.

Sleep problems: The trigeminal nerve has a major influence on the reticular activating system, which keeps the brain awake. Disturbances in trigeminal nerve are known to have a major influence on sleep.

Reduced sense of smell: Humans actually have two noses. The chemoreceptors in the nose are part of the trigeminal nerve. Multiple dentists have reported normalized sense of smell in treating Parkinson’s patients with jaw repositioning appliances.

Rhinorrhea, allergies, sinus problems: Autonomic nerves to the sinuses travel with the trigeminal sensory nerves in the sinus, and become impacted when the trigeminal nerve tone is disturbed. Multiple studies have shown that sinus conditions are dramatically elevated in TMJ patients. Substance P is known to cause allergies when injected into animals.

Retinal alterations: The trigeminal nerve provides sensory for the eye. Research has shown that stimulation of the trigeminal nerve causes alteration in how the tissues in the eye grow.

Accelerated bone loss: Substance P is known to control bone metabolism.

Blink reflex defects: 70% of Parkinson’s patients have a blink reflex defect. The trigeminal nerve is sensory for the blink reflex. Disturbances in trigeminal tone will cause alterations in blink reflex.

Cognitive impairment: Trigeminal nerve can influence the brain in multiple ways; through regional blood flow and alteration of substance P levels. Substance P in known to be a major neuromodulator.

Increased prevalence of autonomic nervous system disturbances:Extensive research on bite destruction in animals has shown that autonomic nervous system disturbance is a constant finding when the bite is altered.

Based on Occam’s razor, the fact that cranio-mandibular dysfunction can account for most all Parkinson’s symptoms and that treatment has reversed Parkinson’s in some cases, implicates cranio-mandibular dysfunction as a primary suspect in seeking the cause of Parkinson’s disease. The implications of this finding would suggest that dental orthopedic alignment be assessed. If found wanting, jaw repositioning therapy should be initiated. Jaw repositioning therapy is a non-invasive treatment done with removable dental appliances; typically in two phases. The first phase is to diagnostically reposition the jaw (i.e. find a therapeutic position that is beneficial). The second phase is to do what is necessary to create a permanent solution to sustain the therapeutic position (typically orthodontics, crowns, or overlay partial).

For more information about CMD/TMJ and Dr. Dwight Jennings, visit the Wellness Village.

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Updated: August 16, 2017