Reprinted with permission from Cranio UK Summer 2014
Jonathan Wood reports on an extraordinary learning experience conducted by the renowned Gavin James held at Helen Harrison's Granta Dental Practice in Cambridge. This was an inaugural event in her superb state-of -the-art purpose-built training facility.
Gavin James gave two fascinating days of training on “Listening to the machine, tensegrity, and engineering in Orthodontics with the first day designed mainly for the dental practitioners and the second day aimed at osteopaths and other complementary professionals. There was a mixture of dentists and other professionals on both days.
The course worked particularly well because of the design of Helen’s facility. The integrated operating light and camera allowed us to watch the cases on the large screen. The screen could be switched to show patient record, radiographs, photographs and Joint Vibrational Analysis (JVA) charts of the patients concerned and then reset to move into lecture mode at the tap of a key.
Gavin’s long career, which started in Scotland and move to Canada, has taken him on a journey making him one of the leading international experts in understanding whole-body issues that can be attributed to malocclusions through cranio-sacral distortions, TMD and the effect on the rest of the body. Gavin skilfully connected research and practice outside the conventional dental orthodontic thinking backed up by observation of the signs, symptoms and the changes in symptoms in life patients that attended. The patients allowed us to hear their story and how the treatments Helen had carried out were helping.
With the combination of lecture style and patient consultations it was easy to take the next step in understanding; from our daily experience of treating crowded arches, malocclusions and TMD to getting a stronger belief in and understanding of the cranio-sacral and cervical changes that are occurring.
He demonstrated his use of Applied Kinesiology in aiding diagnosis and using it in testing the adjustments of appliances on the patients that attended.
He convincingly linked diagrams and theory to radiographs and photographs of what was occurring in the cranium and details about vertical strains, sidebands and rotations linked to these. He showed examples of patient habits (e.g. finger/thumb sucking or hand pressure on the face) which are most likely “self-treatment”, providing relief from cranio-sacral stresses and distortions rather, than just being a patient habit.
He discussed how the engineering science of Tensegrity applies to the body with the fascia playing a much bigger role in postural control than is traditionally accepted and how we see need to see the effect of occlusion and distortions of the body from the standpoint of tensegrity and quantum mechanics, rather than the body being a machine with constituent parts and governed by linear Newtonian philosophy.
He encapsulated this process with the phrase; “As above–So below.”
He discussed research and the significance of electromagnetic fields and resonance on the body’s biology.
For the experienced clinician all the above fits and is a better explanation of why “form follows function and function follows form”; and why we see the changes that occur with the use of our orthopaedic type appliance like the ALF (Advanced Light Force) and the R-N sagittal.
I judged the most of the very full audience had significant time on the journey of orthodontics and cranio-sacral harmony or distortion got the impression that everyone gained a huger benefit from being exposed to Gavin’s intellect and vast experience.
We were supplied with excellent notes. Some 20 or so academic papers and articles of Gavin’s and colleagues on a zip drive and a most engaging looking reading list.
It left me wondering whether today's undergraduate students will be given any pointers in thinking along these lines and how far they are they are exposed to the wider effects of occlusion or the phenomenon of cranial respiration and cranio-sacral movement.