Healing begins with communication.
The connection between the brain and the body are inseparable. In form and in function, in sickness or wellness. The Brain-Body Connection occurs at the head and neck in a region known as the Cranio-Cervical Junction (CCJ).
Our overall health depends on the quality of this connection.
All vital functions, spinal fluid, nerve signals, blood flow and nutrients to the brain pass through this tight corridor called the CCJ. The Gut-Brain junction occurs here, at the CCJ.
Modern advances in medical science can keep the body alive without the brain, but our brains cannot live without our bodies. When our heart, or lungs shut down, or the vital flow of oxygen is blocked from our brain, and carbon dioxide is trapped inside the brain tissues, intact brain cells rapidly breakdown, the cell wall is compromised, and the microscopic organs within the cells malfunction and disintegrate, and the cell rapidly dies. If enough of these cells die, then life in the organism as a whole is not sustainable. The brain dies. Those dead brain cells cannot be resuscitated. Known science does not permit a Lazarus event in those dead cells.
Our entire life experience depends on the quality of communication between the brain and our body.. the quality of this communication determines our quality of life. Cognitive Scientist Guy Claxton observes, that cognitive processes are not separate from senses and motor functions. As Claxton puts it, “the body, the gut, the senses, the immune system, the lymphatic system, are so instantaneously and so complicatedly interacting with the brain that you can’t draw a line across the neck and say ‘above the line it’s smart and below the line it’s menial.’” And yet, with advanced imaging and analysis, when we actually “draw that line” at this boundary, then measure the alignment of those functional spaces inside this vital corridor, we often discover displacements, distortions and malalignments that are directly linked with body-brain disconnect and disease in our sick patients. Conversely, in our formerly sick patients, we see a restored alignment of this functional channel known as the CCJ.
After two decades of caring for patients and looking at tens of thousands of images of the CCJ, I am fully convinced that impedance and restrictions of flow along the vital corridor passing from the brain to the body literally makes all the difference on the life-spectrum which has vitality at one end, and tombstone on the other. As the CCJ breaks down and distorts, our flow ebbs, our sizzle fizzles… and we lose power and life-force. Nutrients are not delivered. Used metabolites are not cleared from the brain tissues. Misalignment robs us of our life-force gradually, we are not fully functional, because our form has broken down. We are not fully alive, but rather, in the words of Billy Crystal’s character in The Princess Bride, we are “Mostly Dead”
When the body is aligned with the head, the complex linkage between our body and brain is open and optimized, and normal function is restored throughout the body and brain. The two do not function independently. The first stage of healing is to restore this anatomical connection between the brain and the body. That’s what ALIGN is all about.
“Aligning the corridor between the brain and body opens up vital flow channels, bringing clarity, balance and function”
Form, Function and Time
Form: The vital corridor which links the brain to the body is called the craniocervical junction. The craniocervical junction houses the brainstem, which is in essence, the bodies “fuse-box”. It encases the nerves, blood vessels and the vital channels which pass from the body to the brain. It is held together by a variety of connecting tissues which tolerate mobility, while providing stability. Ligaments, fascia and muscles. Ligaments provide stability and limit mobility.
Muscles provide mobility and also limit mobility. Muscles are the dynamic stabilizers of the CCJ, and ligaments are the static stabilizers. Both are in constant contact with the nervous system. Muscles can be reprogrammed and balanced with a reprogramming oral appliance.
Even if the static stabilizers (ligaments) are unstable from injury or overuse, muscles and repetitive firing of neurological loops can be activated to reprogram the functional relationships of the head and neck. Even if the muscles have become imbalanced, weak and lost their programming of alignment. Maintaining this alignment is how we heal. We heal our form through reprogramming our function over time. Neuroscientist Joe Dispensa has proven that the brain is rewired by firing our neurons in a different way. The architecture of the brain is literally changed when we ask it to do something different over time. This is how we reprogram adapted
|Skull Base Atlas (C1) Axis (C2)|
muscle memory. There are particular pathways that we must access in order to do this. A knowledge of those pathways and how they work is important.
Maintaining a clear, unimpeded connection between the brain and body over TIME, is crucial to the healing process.
How does this work? It’s both complex and straight-forward at the same time. Our bodies are engineered, or “FORMED” to work, or “FUNCTION”, within reason, to the environments to which they are exposed. If the body is placed in a harmful or burdening environment over time, it will rise to the essential needs of survival through small adaptations. That is why dysfunctional adaptations over time leads to degradation of the structures of the body that maintain our upright status. Yes, the body organ, tissue and metabolism will actually change shape, or “form” through repeated exposure to “function” or actions over time. This phenomenon explains pathological adaptations found in heart disease, insulin intolerance, autoimmune conditions, bone spurs, chronic pain syndromes and almost ALL disease.
In my experience of non-surgically repositioning tens of thousands of heads onto their soft tissue junction of joints, muscles, bone and blood vessels, I have found that head/neck stability is crucial to the healing process. (By stability, I don’t mean stiffness, I mean alignment, balance and natural mobility) But how do you bring this “stability’ to a highly mobile and functional junction? You can’t put a neck brace or a halo brace on and expect to maintain dynamic functionality, part of health is to maintain the neuromuscular programs of ideal function. In order to heal effectively and completely, you must maintain motion and sensory dynamism, but at the same time, bring stability to the rehabilitating system. We accomplish this proprioceptively. In other words, we harness the bodies substantial brainstem sensory motor loops, to provide a continual barrage of postural signals to the sophisticated uprighting systems of the head and neck, upper trunk, shoulder and jaw. These feedback loops are structurally “programmed” into specially designed intraoral appliances that are “registered” or programmed with 3D technology to influence these highly sophisticated sensory-motor loops. This is the way we can effectively bridge the gap between (function) motion and stability (form). Incorrect function leads to postural compensation, imbalance and inflammation. Ideal healthy function leads to decompensation and healing.
Can this be done? Can you jockey posture in a truly effective and predictable way? Taking command of the posture of the teeth enables control over the “posture” of the mandible which engages functional governance over the structures connected to the mandible— Important structures like the head, tongue, shoulders and neck. My first experience with this phenomenon was with my own children in 2003 when all four underwent bracket and wire orthodontia. I noticed, as a doctor/dad, that as their tooth posture started to move under the guidance of their orthodontist, their spines and bodies began to move in erratic ways. Could it be that a small and seemingly forced reposturing of teeth could alter and change the entire musculoskeletal system? My observation turned out to be more than correct, and has been corroborated by numerous research papers linking bad bad posture to a variety of other full body symptoms, including scoliosis!
“Stabilizing is the process of retraining muscles. Once aligned, stabilization allows for faster healing and long term health without long term treatment.”
Epigenetics and Stem Cells.
The living body is a dynamic form capable of responsive change and growth. The peripheral and central nervous systems make up the primary intelligent loops that communicate and facilitate the body’s adaptive survival mechanisms.
The body is organized into trillions of “smart cells”. These cells network together to form complex layers of interactive smart tissue. Individual cells talk to each other in a language called “signal transduction”. The body thrives or degrades based on signalling.
External and internal “cues or signals” received by cells can cause tissue changes. For instance, muscle cells are imbued with such intelligence, that if you continually place them under increasing loads (say by repetitive work), they will signal the body to increase the size and number of the muscles cells in order to “do” this work more efficiently. This messaging system extends out to nearby blood vessels needed to support the enlarged and increased number of muscles cells that arose to the function of repetitive work. Stem cells are signalled to morphologically change into the various cells that make up a blood vessel in a process known as neovascularization in order to deliver nutrients to the newly formed muscle cells. This is an example of our smart tissue at work behind the scenes. We see this common muscle change/effect after regular strength training exercises. What’s happening may seem simple and natural–and it is!! But it is also wonderful and knowable. The same process and signalling occurs in our body when we encounter a “bug” and the immune system has to make special cells called antibodies to rid the body of the invader. Smart tissue qualities are called into action when calluses form on our fingertips after several weeks of guitar lessons. What’s happening here? Our body cells are responding by becoming more efficient in that particular environment. This is an example of the body’s ability to adapt and respond. This is innate intelligence in action, and we now know that this cellular intelligence is largely epigenetic in nature. Epigenetics can be summed up in a simple concept–Gene Environment Interactions. These cellular environmental interactions in our bodies are numbered in the trillions and trillions, but the concept is rather straight-forward and simple. Epigenetics, the environmental interaction with our genes, becomes the root process for structural change through stem cell differentiation.
Okay, now… we’ve given an overview of how the body cells talk with one another through signal transduction, so now we can begin to understand how a properly designed intraoral appliance can provide special signals to the teeth and the bones of the face and mouth to express desirable changes that are both aesthetic and functional. Aesthetic because health and proper function is beauty.
There are literally hundreds of intraoral dental appliances on the market, and because they have a shape, and are placed in the oral cavity, all will cause some permanent change to the face, bite and jaw. But that is not all—they will also affect the rest of the body in one way or another. It’s not a question of whether or not an intraoral appliance will cause a change in the entire body—it will. The more important questions are: what are those changes, and how do they affect our overall health. How do we anticipate, measure and monitor those changes?
Here are the important questions to consider.
- How is the relationship of the teeth with one another?
- Is the bite becoming more balanced and harmonious, or are the tooth relationships growing apart from one another?
- Is the intro oral splint painful or uncomfortable to wear?
- How long should it be worn?
- Since all craniofacial pain syndromes are terminated in the trigeminal cervical system, how is the intraoral appliance affecting the jaw joints and the complex nerves that control the face, head and neck?
- Is it causing pain in the mouth, or other less discrete strains on the craniofacial system?
- Is it correcting cranial strains and asymmetry or locking them it into place?
- How is the appliance affecting the brainstem and the upper airway? If the atlas is misaligned (in the wrong place) during the bite registration process, the appliance will be “encoded” with this postural information and will negatively influence the atlas joint complex to move into the wrong place when the appliance is inserted into the mouth. This can negatively affect the brainstem and blood flow to the brain–which can affect EVERYTHING.
- How is the appliance affecting full body balance, function and posture?
- How is the appliance affecting the autonomic tone and function of the entire body.
The fact is: dentists are not usually equipped to monitor full body processes or systemic health matters. Yet, they are the primary health professionals that place intraoral appliances. Although some dentists’ will take body posture photos against a grid, there are still considerable limitations in guiding and measuring the complex interactions that their dental appliances have over the neurology and musculoskeletal system of the body below—and in many of the cases that I have seen, these changes are not noted or discussed in the dentist patient relationship, because they are left unaddressed and unattended, in certain cases of the population, these spill down, spill over a fax I have intro oral appliance therapy can create health problems in other parts of the body. Research has shown, or rather has demonstrated that this is true.
Bioengineering a Growth Appliance:
Designing and building an intraoral appliance that will optimally affect all the body systems and guide the craniofacial, craniospinal and entire body into a healthier state is no small undertaking. Like designing and building the space station, all functions and structures must be considered from beginning to end, to ensure safety, progress and success. When we understand that a Growth Appliance produces growth trajectories for the face, jaw, tongue, pharynx, heart and brain and skull, we must be thoughtful and comprehensive in the design of the appliance, because the “form” of that appliance or orthotic predicts its “function”. A design flaw in the appliance can create a downstream problem over time that might be difficult to correct.
Every body has a unique set of problems which it is trying to solve through compensation or adaptation over time. Solving as many problems with one solution is the hallmark of a well-designed solution–and the telltale sign of a well built appliance. Our Solution starts with establishing energy efficient, balanced relationships between the face, skull, spine, pelvis and feet, and all of the neurology that goes along with it, and encoding this information onto our intraoral appliance through a proprietary bite registration process called CCMR.
CCMR stands for Craniocervical Mandibular Registration. This process begins with a complex full body history and examination by specially trained clinicians who work together under one roof in The Chapman Method. The method itself provides the analysis and technology which guides the doctors throughout your care plan and process.
“Once your body is aligned and stable, it can now function as it’s meant to, and every aspect of your life can grow”