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Muscles in Dentistry

Muscles in Dentistry?

If your'e like many people, you probably think that most general dentists only treat teeth and gum tissues.

And for the most part, that's true. Placing fillings, crowns and veneers on teeth and providing services directed at maintaining or improving the health of the gums and supporting bone is what the vast majority of dentists routinely do in their practices.

But that's not the case for all general dentists.

There are two other anatomical elements of the human jaw system - the jaw joints and the muscles of the head and neck - that fall under the purview of the dental profession and are of great interest to a select group of dentists.

Dr. Stuart is one of those dentists. And on the remainder of this page, he'll discuss the nature of dentistry's role in the diagnosis, care and treatment of the functional muscles in the head and neck areas.


Yes, Muscles in Dentistry!

If you look at the photos of the women's necks in the banner above, would say that they look unattractive?

If you do, would it surprise you to learn that there's a single muscle that's responsible for the unattractive appearance in all these necks?

platysma-overlayWell, there is. It's called the Platysma Muscle.

It is a broad, flat, superficial muscle - that covers much of the front surface of the human neck - running from the edge of the lower jaw to the collar bone below. Textbooks classify it as an accessory muscle.

In people who have healthy, physiologic neck muscle function, this muscle is rarely seen... because it's rarely used.

But that's not true for these women. The tight ropes and bands that we see in their necks are the result of over-developed muscle fibers. And as any athlete or trainer can attest, a muscle will only develop in size when there is a sufficient functional demand placed upon it.


Form Follows Function...

While there are specific variations in the patterns of over-development of the Platysma Muscle in each of these five women, they all share one trait in common. They all use this muscle excessively - as compared to other people in the population.

And the logical question that one might ask is... Why?

If you've already read our About Us page, you'll recall the concept of form following function. The over-development of the Platysma Muscle - as is shown and discussed here - is a classic example of this concept.

Text books tell us that this accessory muscle only has only two possible actions: 1) to depress the corners of the mouth downward in the expression of melancholy or 2) to assist in the opening and/or retracting of the jaw downward and backward.

Common sense tells us that the over-development of this muscle was not due to chronic sadness in these women.

No. The cause - of the muscle hypertrophy in these women - is due to excessive demands that have been placed on the system. In each case, the Platysma has been recruited to assist in depressing and pulling the jaw backwards. Either symmetrically or asymmetrically.

So, what causes the excessive demands on the jaw systems of these women - and not for other people?

Quite simply, their Dental Occlusion.

How and where a person's teeth fit together in space, plays a critical role in the alignment, balance and function of the the chain of muscles on the front of the head that connects the skull to the collarbone.

As we explore - with the aid of the illustration below - the important role that our bite plays in the function of our head and neck muscles, it's very important to understand one thing, The human head is physically out of balance!

As you read through the information on Human Head Balance above, you should note several important considerations:

1. The human head is not physically in balance!

2. The balance point of the head on the spinal column is located just beneath the ear canals.

3. There is much more mass to the front of the head than there is to the back.

4. As a consequence, the human head has a natural tendency to fall forward.

5. Human evolution has resulted in the development of large powerful muscles in the back of the neck to keep this from happening.

6. The front of the head has a chain of relatively small muscles that counter-balance the big muscles in the back of the head.

7. And most importantly - the lower jaw and the fit of the teeth (the bite or dental occlusion) - are a part of this chain!


cranium-balanceHow and where a person's teeth fit together in space is a major consideration when it comes to the
balance of the head on the spinal column.

When our bite is in correct alignment with our muscles - our head balance is simple, efficient and easy.

If our bite is not in proper alignment, many - if not most - of the muscles of our head and neck must work overtime to maintain it.

The Platysma is one of these muscles. If the bite (dental occlusion) dictates that the jaw must be continuously postured in a retracted or side-skewed manner (during speech and when chewing or swallowing), the Platysma is one of the few available accessory muscles that can be recruited to perform this on-going task.

And when it does, it grows bigger and more visually obvious. Because as we know - Form Follows Function!


COMINGhead-and-neck-muscles-pastel SOON... 

How the Muscle Alignment of Your Jaw - can affect your strength,
your energy, your thinking, your metabolism and your healing. 

Based on the Noble Prize Winning Research sited below:

"Better than 90% of the energy output of the brain is used in relating the physical body in its gravitational field. The more mechanically distorted a person is, the less energy available for thinking, metabolism and healing."

Roger Sperry, PhD - Nobel Prize Winner for Brain Research 1981