Neuromuscular Dentistry

One of the major influences on equine biodynamics, is dentistry. This is why I have an article here on this subject, along with feet, as it’s so important to movement and soundness.

​Since 2018, we have been fortunate enough to have Sylvia Johanna Read, certified Neuromuscular Dentist and Masterson Method practitioner, visiting Cape Town twice a year.

It all came about because I was needing to get my horses’ teeth done, and Dr Tucker happened to mention that she recommends Natural Balance Dentistry (now known as Neuromuscular Dentistry).

By a happy chance of good fortune and coincidence (is there such a thing?), I was put in touch with Sylvia, and next thing she agreed to visit Cape Town to work on some horses. What I have learnt since then is mind blowing in how much the balance of the jaw (or lack of) can impact on the horse, his health and soundness. This is not just about chewing his food properly, or preventing ulceration in the mouth, it’s also about balance, proprioception and correct biomechanics.

Below: Sylvia working on my mare, Magna. I am very grateful to know my horse is getting the best dental care possible, ensuring she can maximise her full potential when it comes to range of motion in the jaw and TMJ function.

Above: Top row before Neuromuscular dentistry, bottom row after

The proof is in the pudding, and I have received extremely positive feedback from clients… improvements in their horses’ movement, behavior and muscle development. This holistic approach to balance the jaw, establishes it’s natural alignment to the TMJ, (the joint closest to the brain) which impacts directly on movement, through the proprioceptors housed there, which tell the horse where his limbs are in time and space.

One can imagine, this will be a large part of the horse’s biomechanics, it will affect the body and the foot balance, everything is connected.

Unfortunately, there are some approaches in traditional dentistry that do more harm than good. Overfiling the teeth (especially with power tools), can take off too much tooth surface. This is can interfere with the jaw’s natural inclination, remove too much grinding surface so necessary for mastication and saliva production, and shorten a tooth’s life span.

​Traditional dentistry often disregards the incisors completely. The incisors are what NM dentists address first when they begin, as it’s so important to set the jaw up before they look at the molars. We have seen older horses who are ‘long in the tooth’, they’ve never had their incisors addressed, despite regular dentistry, and they’re dealing with the excessive pressure and restrictions this creates along with the resulting compensations over years and years… no wonder some horses look like they have a constant headache.

As Spencer LaFlure, founder of the Original Center for Natural Balance Dentistry™, US.  says, “40 million years of evolution can’t be wrong, but 100 years of bad opinions can be”.

​Hopefully one day, we will have a certified South African NM Dentist, but for now, we are lucky enough to have Sylvia visiting Cape Town twice a year.

For more fascinating information, below you can download the very informative article below written by Sylvia.

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