Oral Systemic Balance
Stop and think about it……breathing is our most important body activity. As important as the heart is, its function is secondary to breathing since the heart circulates the life-giving oxygen throughout the body that is first acquired by breathing. With this as the starting premise, Oral Systemic Balance, a technique developed by Dr. Farrand Robson, supports breathing. While traditional oral appliance therapy supports breathing during sleep, Oral Systemic Balance supports breathing during BOTH sleep and awake time.
Another extremely important body function is swallowing. Obviously, swallowing is critical to our survival allowing us to intake life-sustaining food and water. While we rarely are consciously aware of it, we swallow over a thousand times a day. When we think about swallowing, we usually think about the intake of food and water, but the swallowing function occurs 24 hours a day as we swallow our own saliva.
Oral Systemic Balance supports both breathing and swallowing by using removable, retainer-like oral appliances (orthotics) to improve jaw, tongue and upper throat function—and by so doing is able to quickly and dramatically provide relief of pain.
Pain is a signal to our bodies that something has gone wrong. Intensity of pain can range from a slight feeling of tightness that often goes unnoticed to shrieking, stabbing, life-controlling misery.
Because this concept of pain relief is not commonly recognized or understood, please go to the following you tube site, http://www.youtube.com/user/drdavidlawler which shows several patients that have experienced the power of this therapy. The results of Oral Systemic Balance (OSB) are typically so dramatic that, unless these videos are viewed, the full appreciation of this form of pain relief is really not possible.
For those of you without a high speed internet connection to easily see videos or who prefer to read about someone’s experience from their own words, one patient who had experienced significant pain relief, after suffering from migraines for years, started a fascinating discussion about OSB here on the internet site sleepguide.com.
OSB Therapy—Facilitating Nature’s Play
The Nervous System—The Communicator
In order to help understand OSB therapy, let us start with the concept represented by this cartoon character known as the homunculus man. This image is drawn with the body parts drawn in proportion to the innervation that each receives from the brain’s cerebral cortex. Obviously, the hands are quite large representing the innervation necessary for us to do intricate tasks requiring great dexterity. Notice the enormous size of the jaws and tongue. This is due to this area’s important function of speech and taste, PLUS swallowing and breathing. As we will later discuss, due to the extreme importance of this part of the body, when there are disturbances in this area the nervous system goes into a high state of alarm—a constant state of survival.
The Epiglottis—The Decider
At the back of the throat there is a common hole or tube, as shown in this drawing. Through this collapsible tube passes food, water, air and saliva. The air goes to the trachea which leads to the lungs and everything else goes to the esophagus leading to the stomach. It is CRITICAL that the air is separated from food, water and saliva or we will either choke to death or drown. The epiglottis, a tiny flap of tissue positioned slightly below the base of the tongue and above the vocal cords, has the all-important role in this duty
Because the function of the epiglottis is so critical, the body does what is necessary to assist its proper closure. This can happen in many ways. Some people hold their heads farther forward. Other people tense their jaws or elevate their shoulder positions. Any of these compensating actions can result in headaches or neck and shoulder pain. All of the body’s compensating activities take constant attention of the autonomic nervous system, and specifically, in the case of airway dysfunction, the sympathetic nervous system, the branch of the autonomic nervous system that functions in the fight-or-flight response. This continual nervous system activity runs in the background without our awareness, producing adrenalin, and, when sustained, inflammation—this process has a tremendous impact throughout the body
The Tongue—The Troublemaker
To understand why the tongue is the troublemaker in much epiglottis dysfunction, and is the source of a vast number of physical symptoms that can literally occur from head to toe, we must first look at the tongue and its housing, the lower jaw. In this drawing we see a schematic drawing of a well-shaped lower jaw with the tongue placed in its normal position. It is important to understand that a well-shaped jaw is necessary for teeth to come in straight with no crowding.
This drawing shows an underdeveloped jaw with crowded lower teeth. The teeth are crowded because the lower jaw did not develop to its full genetic potential, so there was inadequate room for the lower front teeth. Notice that there is less room for the tongue in this jaw. X’s are shown on teeth that are commonly extracted before orthodontic treatment in an attempt to relieve crowding of the front teeth.
This drawing shows a lower jaw after the bicuspids marked with red X’s above were removed to create space for the lower front teeth to be straightened with braces. As a result of this procedure, there is dramatically less room for the tongue.
To illustrate more fully, the tongues from the examples above have been enlarged and superimposed. The tongue outlined in black is from the fully developed jaw, the tongue outlined in red is from the jaw with the crowded front teeth, and the tongue outlined in blue is from the jaw that had two teeth removed before orthodontic treatment. It is most important to understand that, even though there is less physical space for the tongue to reside, the physical size of the tongue remains the same.
Because the tongue does not fit in the mouth, it positions itself farther back in the throat. In addition to tongue function being altered by inadequate space in a jaw with crowded teeth, missing teeth can also seriously alter tongue function. When a tooth is not present, the tongue loses its bracing support in the area formerly occupied by the now-missing tooth. Oral systemic orthotics work to assist tongue shape and function, allowing proper breathing, speaking and swallowing.
Our sincere thanks to Dr. David Lawler for allowing the use of images from his web site to help better explain this extraordinary therapy.
If you would like to learn more about this therapy, or schedule a consultation, please contact our office.