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An anatomy lesson

anatomy_lessonThe relationship between the way your skull sits on top of your spine and how your teeth mesh together when you bite is both well researched and documented. Unfortunately it is not as well known in the physical therapy and dental communities who do not treat TMJ Disorders.

Your skull sits upon the very first vertebrae, called the ATLAS. The Atlas refers to the mythical strongman that held the earth up in the heavens. Like this mythical man the first vertebrae cradles your head, connecting it to the body.

The Atlas is unlike any other vertebrae in your body. Shaped like a butterfly with it’s wings spread out, the Atlas does not have a spine like every other of your 32 vertebrae.


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This gives the Atlas great MOBILITY allowing the head to move in many directions. However the Atlas does not have great STABILITY. It is basically supported in place by muscles of the head and neck and by the position of the lower jaw which is determined by how your teeth mesh together.

bad_vs_good_postureThis inter-relationship of the jaw and the spine means that changes in either your jaws development or changes in the way you bite together cause by tooth loss, dental treatment or orthodontic care can affect how your skull sits on your neck vertebrae. Your Atlas can very easily twist out of position. For some, this slippage of the Atlas will create little or no pain. For others, it is the source of their back, neck and head pain.

Visit the “Test Yourself Section” and look at the first Postural test. Here is where we often see the first signs of a problem with the orientation of the Atlas and the Skull. In these cases, Dr. Rose recommends to visit a qualified chiropractor who can adjust the position of the Atlas in relationship to the skull.


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