#112: Strange Bedfellows: Orthodontics and Neurology

January 23, 2016

Back in Episode #104, Dr. Vince Clark made reference to a couple of dentists who were using dental orthotics — that is, orthodontics devices worn in the mouth — to affect brain systems in people suffering from conditions as varied as Tourette’s Syndrome to Sleep Apnea to untreatable Migraine Headaches.  It took a few weeks to chase down the dentists in question, but the seed of curiosity was too well planted not to turn this into an episode.

Now, we get to hear from Dr. Anthony Sims and Dr. Gary Demerjian, who are probably the two leading practitioners nationwide of this counterintuitive treatment approach — based on soothing irritated nerves in the jaw to alleviate symptoms often misdiagnosed as purely neurological.

Get ready for a paradigm-altering interview.

And if you’re curious to see the doctors’ patients’ testimonials and physical behavior before-and-after the insertion of their orthodontics, check out this videoAnd this one.  And this one. And this one too.

Show Notes
  • 00:00:22

    What does dentistry have to do with cognition?

  • 00:02:52

    This Week in Neuroscience: So Much To Read, So Little Time

  • 00:06:17

    The audience interaction section

  • 00:08:20

    Introduction to Dr. Anthony Sims and Dr. Gary Demerjian's area of expertise

  • 00:10:20

    Dr. Sims' transition from traditional dentistry to treating neurological disorders

  • 00:14:20

    The trigeminal nerve: symptoms and bad signalling

  • 00:16:41

    The connections between sneezing and Tourette's Syndrome

  • 00:18:42

    Uneven growth rates and the effect on the trigeminal nerve

  • 00:20:08

    How is this treatment catching on as a standard of care?

  • 00:21:36

    How do dentistry interventions stack up to traditional medication?

  • 00:22:45

    Which neurological conditions are treatable using this method?

  • 00:25:22

    A shift in orthodontry teaching

  • 00:26:09

    How quickly do people respond to treatments?

  • 00:28:54

    Symptoms to look out for

  • 00:30:06

    Sleep disorder treatment

  • 00:30:57

    Aging and its effects on jaw structure and overall health

  • 00:36:45

    Ruthless Listener-Retention Gimmick: Positive Stimuli Provide Benefits to the Distracted Brain


  1. Jim says:

    Your comments about speed reading being less useful than reported did not include those of us who use speed listening. It is of increasing value as the number of podcasts increases.

    1. Jesse Lawler says:

      Jim — Solid point, and I use speed-listening myself. Although I think most readers probably read at a speed somewhat closer to a speed-listening rate of words anyway, which might make that kind of a wash. (Speed listening up to 3x works pretty well; I don’t know any apps that support going faster than that, or brains that could handle it.)

      I’ve listened to some Audiobooks where I’m sure that they recorded them with the expectation that people will listen sped-up, because the 1x speed is ponderously slow, too. 😀 So there seems to be a little tug-of-war going on between content producers and consumers around the speed issue.

  2. Joe says:

    Very interesting! I suffer from some of the lesser symptoms mentioned, such as back pain/posture imbalance and headaches and couldn’t fit more than 2 fingers in my jaw.

    Towards the end they mentioned that there were a few people in the UK (where I’m from) doing this stuff.

    Don’t suppose you’d know what I’d need to search for to find those people?


    1. Jesse Lawler says:

      Hi Joe — I’d contact Dr. Sims’ office and ask him directly; I’m sure he’ll be happy to get you pointed in the right direction. You should be able to find him through his YouTube links above, but if you have any problems drop me a message on email or Twitter and I’ll email you his direct contact info. I just feel like I shouldn’t put it up publicly in a comment. 🙂

  3. ben says:

    I like the discussion of how a sneeze/Tourettes may be a reverse signal from the jaw nerve to the brain… but not sure I get how pressure would increase on the (Temporo Mandibular?) nerve as you age. Wouldn’t the malformed jaw bone have less pressure from loosening teeth?

    I also thought that this might give hope for those suffering from trigeminal neuralgia (aka Suicide Disease), a very painful and rare face nerve condition for which there is no cure/treatment and for which suicide is the only relief.. but I’m a little skeptical whenever something is said to cure 99% of everything from Tourettes to Alzheimers!

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