Two Dentists and Their Appliances

By John Diamond, M.D.

In 1975, Dr. George Goodheart mentioned a dentist, Dr. Willie May of Albuquerque, New Mexico who was achieving cures for many systemic diseases. I decided to study with him.

I remember him well: a wiry man, mercurial, always active. Filled with passion and enthusiasm. Utterly, utterly dedicated to his work. And always smiling.

His program lasted a week. The patients, usually about a dozen, would fly in from all over the country on the Sunday and come to his little office on Monday morning. Over the next few hours he would take wax impressions. At lunch time he made his appliances from them and then fitted them in the afternoon. The rest of the week would be spent adjusting the appliance for the patients and re-adjusting (as they continued to relax) and instructing them on how to do it themselves back at home.

I saw some incredible results – from cancer to Raynaud’s disease.

The essence of his work, Willie used to say, is that we are all robbed of our “genetic vertical and horizontal,” echoing the work of that great dentist and nutritionist Dr. Weston Price. Some of Dr. Price’s photographs of “primitive” people’s wide palatal arches, are reprinted in my book Your Body Doesn’t Lie.

Willie concentrated more on restoring the vertical height than the lateral width. He told me that this work originated with his old Texas partner Dr. William Donald Kelley (later of cancer treatment fame) who had found there were four vertical positions to which the jaw could be opened. Willie nearly always used the lowest position. This was the purpose of his unipivot acrylic lower appliance.

This is how he would find the exact height: He would have the patient sit upright in an old dental chair, just like a barber’s chair. The reason for this, he explained, is that the feet must be firmly planted for all adjusting work. (For this reason, I have long advised dentists to fit a rope or something to support the feet to their modern platformless chairs).

Then Willie would place a roll of warm wax between the molars on both sides and suggest to the patient that he just calmly relax and sink down into these two pillows. All the time Willie was observing him, very closely. “Look how those capillaries are opening.” “See his nostrils expand.” Many indicators he would see – he was so attuned.

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The Body Shell Syndrome

By John Diamond, M.D.

Megan was a very quiet, retiring woman. When she walked into the room you would hardly notice her. She could be quite a presence when she wanted to, but generally she chose to sit quietly on the side and keep her distance from people. It was as if there were, as she wistfully admitted, a shell around her.

She had had little sexual experience in her life, and those experiences Megan had had were fairly traumatic. It had been very difficult for her to summon up the courage to make love in the first place, and after she had been hurt by that relationship, it became even more difficult for her to try to get close to a man, let alone make love. When I looked at her, I could almost visualize her protected from the world in her shell, which I suppose corresponds with what Wilhelm Reich called body armor.

Megan was not at all stressed when she said, “I wish there were a shell around me,” as if she felt safe and protected and enclosed within its walls. But shells can be broken, and that was what happened to Megan with her unhappy love experience. Afterward this she was too frightened to try again. Her shell might get broken again, her barriers removed and her vulnerability exposed—she might have been invaded to her core. Her armor might have been cracked. It would have been a breach of her psychological defenses. And it was this that so threatened her. It was from this that she felt that she must withdraw at all costs.

My research showed that Megan could not tolerate the thought of anything penetrating any of her orifices. For example, when I asked her to open her mouth there was no difficulty. I asked her to put her finger (or it could be someone else’s finger) just outside her open mouth and there was still no problem. But if the finger was then placed inside her open mouth, even though it was touching nothing, she became greatly stressed. It had broken her shell of defense.

Similarly, if a piece of food to which she was not allergic was placed on a spoon and put inside her mouth while she kept her mouth open, she would become stressed. If the food were then tipped from the spoon onto her tongue and the spoon withdrawn, she would also be stressed.

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Tension and the Muscles of the Tongue

By John Diamond, M.D.

It has been said that muscles have memories. And no muscles have more memories than the external muscles that control the tongue. Every negative emotion that has afflicted us throughout our lives, it seems, is held in those muscles – every cry of anguish, every sob of sorrow, every negative statement of anger, of resentment, of hurt.

In an angry person’s right forearm you can feel the muscle tension from the aggression that was not released by a physical blow. Imagine all that was not expressed, or not completely expressed, being locked in the muscles of the tongue (hence the expression “bite your tongue”).

Furthermore, Daniel Garliner has shown that due to faulty breast – or bottle-feeding, very few people use their tongues correctly, as, for example, in the apparently simple but actually very complex act of swallowing [For more on this, refer to Myofunctional Therapy in Dental Practice, by Daniel Garliner (New York: Bartel Dental Book Co.), l971].

With each individual I find extremely painful pressure points in the muscles at the root of the tongue on the floor of the mouth. For many years I have practiced a technique to release these tender points. It is a very painful procedure. I squeeze the tender points for only a second or so, which generally causes them to release.

In all my experience in working with patients’ bodies, I have found nothing that is more painful than the squeezing of these points. (I can also speak from personal experience, because I first discovered and practiced this technique on myself.) It is so painful that as soon as the last and most sensitive point is released, the one in the muscle at the root of the tongue, I instinctively gently clasp the person’s head with my hands as the tears stream from his eyes.

The fact that these points are so painful is an indication of just how poorly we use our tongues. As Garliner suggests, this goes back to the first months of life.

There has been considerable corroboration of the memory function of these muscles. Many patients have told me that during this procedure they think of the situation that they believe is locked there. Usually it is one of great anger. They did not say what they had wanted to say. They had held back and “bitten their tongues.” Other negative emotions were also stored there, and these caused the muscles to go into spasm, leaving the action of the tongue unbalanced and distorted.

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Breast Feeding, Bonding and Myofunctional Therapy

By John Diamond, M.D.

Katherine was breast feeding her first baby, Alice, who was just a month old. We discovered that the baby was disappointed (stomach meridian). I see so many people who are disappointed, and this may be where it begins, back at the first few weeks of life and back to breast feeding.

In his book, Myofunctional Therapy in Dental Practice [Bartel Dental Book Company, New York, 1971], Daniel Garliner cites Richard Applebaum’s paper on breast feeding—a paper of unlimited significance. Applebaum gives very explicit instructions on how the baby should be supported while at the breast in order to ensure the best sucking.

I placed a large pillow under Katherine’s arms as Applebaum suggests, but the disappointment was still operant. Then I readjusted the angle that Alice made with her mother, trying to copy exactly the photographs that Applebaum supplied. With this, not only was Alice no longer disappointed, but her Life Energy was at the highest level.

Katherine remarked that she could feel a great difference. Alice’s sucking was so much stronger than it had ever been before. It was a new and completely different sensation. Furthermore, Alice had ceased to whimper as she had done during nearly all of her previous feeds. Perhaps for the first time in her life there was Absolute Love.

Some time later, Katherine told me that there had been a profound change in Alice since she had been feeding her in the correct position. Katherine was now so used to Alice’s stronger sucking that if it was not quite right she knew exactly how to adjust her position in order to correct it. Alice had stopped whimpering completely, and she was no longer vomiting. Perhaps the greatest change, however, was how much more content and happy Alice seemed when she was awake, and how much more deeply and peacefully she slept.

The change that I saw reflected the bond had grown between them. Earlier, Alice had seemed somewhat awkward in Katherine’s arms, as if they were not really molding to each other, but now the bond between them was so close that they seemed as one.

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Playing the Violin and Tongue Position

By John Diamond, M.D.

There is a problem I have found with violinists involved with bowing at the tip, which is present at a deeper level than the problems I have mentioned. It is found in virtually every violinist, even those who maintain the convex wrist angle.

As strange as it may seem, this will be corrected if the violinist places the tip of his tongue in the normal resting position – that is, up against the roof of the mouth with the tip touching the rugae, which are behind the upper incisors [See my Your Body Doesn’t Lie]. I have demonstrated previously that when the tongue is on the rugae, the Life Energy of the individual is greatly enhanced, and so it is with the musician.

Violinists and violists almost universally hold tension in the muscles of the neck and the floor of the mouth. The way in which the instrument is held of course contributes a great deal to this problem. This tension is also felt in the tongue muscles, which rather than being in a normal position, or even just lying flat on the floor of the mouth, tend to be thrust against the teeth as if to brace them against the stress of holding the instrument.

That is to say, the tongue is not just passively out of position, but actively out of position. It is out of position and in tension. In fact, some players tell me that after they have played for a while their tongues are so sore that they can barely talk.

Perhaps this seems somewhat bizarre to you. What difference could the position of the tongue possibly make to the playing of the violin? Try it. If you are sensitive to music you will certainly hear the difference.

The correction of this faulty tongue habit is part of the work of myofunctional therapy, developed by Daniel Garliner [Myofunctional Therapy in Dental Practice, Bartel Dental Book Co., New York, 1971]. My opinion is that every violinist and violist with this problem would benefit from myofunctional therapy just as they would from training in the Alexander Technique. Of course, not only violin and viola players can benefit from this work. With all except the wind instruments, naturally, the player’s energy can be enhanced through proper posture, including correct tongue position.

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Breathing and the Respiratory Stumble

By John Diamond, M.D.

Perhaps the first thing that happens when we are confronted with any sort of stress is that we jam our breath. We stop breathing. Watch the dental patient walk in the office and see the dental chair. Immediately his breathing will jam. He will have what we call a “respiratory stumble.” That stumble will then allow the specific energy imbalance to which he is prone in that situation of stress to reveal itself. It may be related to any of the meridians. This is ultimately, in microcosm, the origin of disease patterns.

One of our primary purposes is to learn how to remain balanced with our Life Energy high, so that if we are confronted with a shock or stressful situation, it is far less likely to cause our respiration to falter. As long as we are centered, as long as our Life Energy is high, we will not have respiratory stumbles, and we will minimize our energy imbalances.

Furthermore, we must realize that the thymus is intimately interconnected with the organs of respiration. As we breathe, the thymus is being rhythmically pumped (just as the pituitary is being pumped by cranial respiration), and energy is circulated throughout the body. But as soon as there is a jamming of the breath, a respiratory stumble, there will be an interruption of the ebb and flow of the energy stimulated by the thymus throughout the body, and the susceptible meridian will then suffer an energy loss.

The meridian involved will depend to a large extent on which half of the diaphragm is most affected by the shock. We can show, for example, that someone may be breathing with good lateral expansion on both sides of the lower thoracic cage. Subject him to a shock, and it will be found that after recovering from the momentary stumble, or break in his rhythmic breathing pattern, he will begin to breathe again, but one half of the diaphragm will be inhibited in its excursion. The lower ribs on that side will not move laterally, and the cerebral hemisphere on the opposite side of the body will now be dominant.

Thus, our structural relationship at the time and the nature of the stress determine how we will be affected. We generally then find a weakness in one of the six meridians relating to the underactive hemisphere [I have shown in my Speech, Language and the Power of the Breath that six meridians relate to the left hemisphere and six to the right].

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How’s Your Memory?

By John Diamond, M.D.

I once gave a seminar for a dental society and there, as with nearly every other dental society, we found the following: When the dentists thought of dentistry, nearly all of them suffered a lowering of their Life Energy, indicating the stress of their profession and the fact that they are ill at ease with their work. When they were given the names of some of their patients, each was stressed by about ninety percent of the names. They were ill at ease with their profession and with most of their patients − unable to have what they consider to be satisfactory, therapeutic relationships with them.

Further, as I have demonstrated many times, when they looked at any piece of dental equipment, or even a picture of a piece of dental equipment such as a chair, a mirror, or a hand-piece, they were again weakened.The profession is indeed a source of great stress.

Then, when I asked a number of them to give me the names of the patients they had seen on their last full working day, they were most surprised to find that they could not remember the name of anyone they had worked on, again indicating stress. But what concerned me was their response to these findings: “Why should I bother to know his name? I’m just fixing a tooth. I remember their mouths, but I don’t remember their names, and I don’t remember them. But I sure remember the teeth!”

I do not believe that anything is gained by dehumanizing the patient and reducing him to a tooth, or a mouth, or a liver, or an X-ray. A great deal is lost. We lose an understanding of the person with whom we are having an intimate therapeutic relationship. To see him only as a tooth is degrading to the patient and even more so to the dentist.

This is not to imply, however, that dentists are by nature cold, inhuman and mechanical. Based on all my years working with them, I believe it is quite the contrary. They are sincere, dedicated, sensitive people yearning to do the best they can for all concerned. But the stress of dentistry cannot be denied. The physical working conditions are abnormal: the intimacy of the relationship − invasion by the dentist of the patient’s territory, and by the patient of the dentist’s territory − is a very stressful situation for both of them, as is the fear and apprehension with which the patient approaches the dentist.

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Dental Appliances: Metal Across the Midline

By John Diamond, M.D.

I saw a woman who was complaining of great difficulty with her thinking. She was aware that she was not able to think as clearly as she once could. We also found that she had quite a marked dyslexia. It was then that I discovered she was wearing a dental appliance that had metal crossing her midline. When she took the appliance out, both she and I noticed that her thinking improved dramatically, as did her dyslexia.

I had initially experienced great difficulty trying to follow her thought processes. Her sentences were uncoordinated, as if her speech was going nowhere. In fact I wondered if she had some form of severe mental illness, but all this disappeared when she removed the appliance.

She told me that her dentist was aware of the problem caused by metal across the midline, and in an attempt to overcome this had recommended that she wear wire rimmed glasses in the hope that two negatives might make a positive. In one sense, at some times this did overcome some of her apparent problems, but it achieved this by an overall lowering of Life Energy. It was not a solution.

As far as I know, and many of my dental colleagues confirm this, these appliances do not need to have metal across the midline. Whenever the metal is removed, there is always a considerable improvement in Life Energy and mental functioning.

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Dentists and Intimacy

By John Diamond, M.D.

Virtually every dentist is stressed by the statement that he likes his patients. If I ask a dentist to name the patients he saw the day before, he usually has difficulty remembering even one. But he can remember their mouths. If he does name a few patients − “I like Mr. X,” and so on, he will usually find this stressful.

Generally this is related to a syndrome I have designated the “intimacy” problem. It is a major problem in dentistry because the dentist is in such intimate contact with each patient. When we discuss it, nearly every dentist agrees that he finds this so − it is, in fact, of such significance that it has often led to thoughts of his giving up dentistry altogether.

Does the same problem apply in his marriage? He has knowingly entered into an intimate relationship with his wife. He has made that choice. How could he choose to be on such intimate terms with so many different people, at such a frequency as his patients? It can be done.

Part of the solution involves the dentist wanting to be close to his patients, wanting to get involved with them, wanting to like them. That will come about when he ceases to see them as just a mouth, and instead sees, feels and responds to their totality. This, of course, does not imply that the dentist desires a sexually intimate relationship with his patients. We are speaking on an entirely different level here.

The dentist must be willing to know who his patients are, to learn something about them as total people and to see them as more than teeth. When he relates to them in this way, he will perhaps be less affected by the required closeness of the therapeutic situation.

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Dental Appliances: Problems with Acrylic

By John Diamond, M.D.

I once saw three students who were patients of three different dentists, all highly skilled. These students each had a different type of acrylic appliance. They had been checked by their respective dentists, and all the appliances had been found to be of great benefit. In each case, however, we discovered that the student was allergic to the acrylic and thus was being harmed at the same time as he was being helped.

For example, one patient had an appliance to build up the lower molars. It was found that when she inserted the appliance and clenched her teeth gently, so as to achieve the balance that the appliance was designed to accomplish, she remained unstressed. But as soon as she opened her mouth, so that the appliance was in a sense no longer activating the meridian system, she became stressed, due to the allergic effect of the acrylic.

The appliances were all perfectly balanced and thus were achieving the desired effect, but only when the teeth were occluded. As soon as the mouth was opened and this positive effect was no longer obtained, the negative effect of the plastic prevailed. Obviously the patient was not supposed to walk around with her teeth clenched or touching all the time, and every time she did not have her teeth occluded she was being harmed by the acrylic.

All that was necessary was for the dentist to keep pieces of the various forms of acrylic, have the patient put them in her mouth one by one, and test whether or not she was allergic to any of them before the appliance was made. Furthermore, when the appliance had been made it should have been kinesiologically tested: firstly, in position, and, secondly, in the mouth but out of position. In position, it should strengthen. Out of position, it must not weaken. If it does, the patient is allergic to the acrylic.

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