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Sore After the Dentist?


"Why is it that a day or two after I see a dentist I get a headache or my neck hurts?" An hour in the dental chair is stressfu.

"Why is it that a day or two after I see a dentist I get a headache or my neck hurts?" An hour in the dental chair is stressful. One's jaw propped open, and anxiety over the procedure or past experience, may be all it takes to surface old symptoms once thought to have healed.

We don't often recognize how intimately every physiological system and body part is connected. The head bone truly is connected to the toe bone! This is accomplished, in part, through intricate layers of connective tissue running the length of the body. Tensions in one area are easily translated throughout. One way the body compensates as it adapts to stresses and injury is to develop balancing tension patterns. Eventually there are too many layers of tension, the load is too great, and symptoms begin to surface. If tissues are already under considerable strain from old unresolved injuries or traumas, a visit to the dentist may be the event that pushes one's body beyond its ability to cope.

Craniosacral therapy supports the body's natural healing mechanisms in a very gentle preventive measure against the accumulated effects of these stresses. A hands-on, non-intrusive approach employing subtle palpation skills throughout the body, craniosacral therapy is particularly helpful in finding the underlying source of dysfunction or chronic pain. Barriers to one's well-being are overcome through gently accessing and aligning with the inherent wisdom and healing capacity of the tissues. A neutral agenda, together with intimate access to the central nervous system, make craniosacral therapy effective in widely varying situations.

The skull is not the bony "coconut" as long believed by North American medical practitioners. Dr. William Sutherland, an American osteopath, first investigated cranial bone movement in the 1920s. Dr. John E. Upledger, DO, OMM, later documented the rhythmic movement of cranial bones and explained the function of the craniosacral system. Dr. Upledger's research and experience evolved into the ongoing development of craniosacral therapy.

The craniosacral system consists of the membranes and cerebral spinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. The skull, to which these membranes are attached, is actually a set of interlocking bones that must move in synchrony to accommodate internal fluid volume and pressure changes. The manufacture and reabsorption of cerebral spinal fluid creates these fluctuations which may be felt throughout the body. Craniosacral therapy mobilizes the entire craniosacral system, facilitating the body's inherent ability to dissipate stresses and heal, and helping to maintain the optimal environment for the development and function of the central nervous system and everything it regulates.

The maxilla (top jaw) attaches directly to the skull, profoundly influencing the entire craniosacral system. As many dental procedures potentially compress cranial and facial bone sutures (the joints uniting the bones), these tensions are translated into the membrane system, restricting its movement and affecting fluid pressures within the cranium and down the spine. Eventually, this can result in many, varied sensory, motor or neurological impairments.

In similar fashion, orthodontic braces on the top teeth restrict the normal physiological movement of the cranial bones. Sometimes as the appliance is tightened, uneven tensions are introduced into the placement of the maxilla and from there into the craniosacral system - potentially contributing to the development of scoliosis (curvature of the spine). Craniosacral therapy as an adjunct therapy to orthodontics or other dental appliances is highly recommended.

The use of the maxilla or mandible (upper or lower jaw) as a fulcrum in dental extractions may stress a temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) or compress cranial bone sutures. This is a potential cause of TMJ dysfunction, a painful syndrome affecting the face and jaw, and also contributes to a wide range of other symptoms. The lingering toothache, another common discomfort after dental work, often "evaporates" with the subtle relief of tensions within the tiny ligaments attaching the tooth to the bone.

If you are experiencing symptoms after a visit to the dentist or have undergone extensive dental procedures, you may find craniosacral therapy beneficial in alleviating symptoms. A typical session, lying fully clothed on a massage table in a quiet setting could last anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes. While one's experience may vary from session to session, you can expect to feel a deep sense of relaxation and a greater sense of well-being.

To learn more about Upledger CranioSacral Therapy and the Upledger Institute, or to find a practitioner in your area, call 1-800-233-5880 or visit

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