Dento-Cranial Diagnosis and Treatment

Dento-Cranial diagnosis and treatment by manipulation can be used to diagnosis and treat a variety of dental, masticatory, jaw joint, head, and facial pain disorders. It is possible, with dento-cranial training, to be able to determine and assess how dental treatment affects the dento-cranial complex as well the rest of the body. Dento-cranial manipulation can treat related dento-cranial disorders and thereby enable the entire body to function better.

Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, MD, a civil war surgeon, was interested in how the structure of the body affected over all health. As a boy, he had cured his headaches by balancing his head on the seat of a playground swing while lying prone. He later established the first College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, MO in 1892. One of his students was a former newspaper reporter and editor named William Garner Sutherland, who studied a Beauchene skull at the College and noticed that the suture between the sphenoid and temporal bones was beveled like the gills of a fish, therefore indicating a vehicle for respiration. By deduction Dr. Sutherland reasoned that the cranial bones then must move. From that point on Dr. Sutherland was constantly correlating healing to structure which much attention to the cranial aspect of structure and healing. He then developed the concept of Osteopathy in the Cranial Field. This concept he introduced to the Osteopathic profession in 1932 with a book called The Cranial Bowl, and with a series of articles he wrote for one of the Osteopathic Journals under the name of Blunt Bone Bill. He had had a bad experience from a dental extraction which he had to overcome by applying to himself his cranial concepts of structure as an adjunct to healing. From this experience, when he began to teach his concepts to other doctors at seminars, he made sure to include Dentists (DDS's and DMD's) in his classes along with Osteopathic (DO's) and Medical (MD's) Physicians. His theories and techniques have been taught by Dr. Sutherland and his Osteopathic faculty in the Sutherland Cranial Teaching Foundation and the Cranial Academy since the 1940's. His philosophy forms the basis for the valuable therapeutic procedures used by many clinicians. His concepts have been taught in seminars now for over 60 years to dentists, and the William Garner Sutherland Temporomandibulo-Cranial Dental Group has been in existence since 1982 to specialize in teaching and learning Dr. Sutherland's concepts as they apply to dento-cranial situations. This was due to unique treatment needs peculiar to dentists and to the legal considerations of state dental boards.

Dr. Sutherland's principles deserve recognition by clinicians and scientists alike. Studies at Michigan State College of Osteopathic Medicine and New England College of Osteopathic Medicine have proven his basic deductions of cranial bone movement to be true. His therapy respects the entire body as a single unit of physiological function under the direction of the Primary Respiratory Mechanism. The effects of Primary Respiratory produce the five phenomena listed below:

  1. The inherent motility of the brain and spinal cord.
  2. The fluctuation of the cerebral spinal fluid.
  3. The mobility of the intracranial and intraspinal membranes.
  4. The articular mobility of the cranial bones.
  5. The involuntary movement of the sacrum between the illia.

The over-all principles and practice of Cranial therapy has as its basis: 29 bones of the cranium and they have inherent motion at the sutures. These bones are connected and interconnected through the dura mater and fascia of the central nervous system. When these sutures are restricted or deformed, they can develop problems (or dysfunction) of the central nervous system or the musculo-skeletal system.

The most important training the W. G. Sutherland Temporomandibulo-Cranial Dental Group can give a dentist is to bring the sensitivity of the dentist to the level that the dentist may ascertain just exactly the effect his dental treatment has on the dento-cranial complex or even the rest of the body. But there is more:

  • When diagnosing and treating craniomandibular dysfunction cases, dento-cranial diagnosis and treatment can be an important adjunct. When an orthotic (or bite splint) is used, many times inner ear, headaches (both musculo-skeletal and migraine), vision and postural problems can disappear. Part of these changes can be attributed to balancing the mandible which then changes the interaction with the cranial bones. Often, when splints are used the expected symptomatic relief doesn't occur. This is a mystery to many practitioners. It has been shown that in many of these cases, even after the mandible is balanced with a splint or equilibration, the restriction in the sutures remains.
  • Diagnosis of this problem and then manipulation of the cranium can free the restrictions which re-establishes the normal motion and alignment of the head and neck, and then the symptomatic relief expected occurs.
  • The dental speciality of orthodontics is particularly influenced by the function of the cranial bones. Often orthodontic treatment may be affected by the ability of the cranial bones to adapt to dental changes. Manual release of dento-cranial dysfunction can often accelerate slow or stalled orthodontic cases. Orthodontic therapy works best when the dento-cranial mechanism is respected.

Dento-cranial diagnosis and manipulation can be an adjunctive therapy to any discipline of dentistry.