Yesterday I introduced you to Dr. Stack and Dr. Sims, dentists who claim to have invented a mouthpiece device that can cure the affects of Tourette Syndome. Another blogger has written about their appliance and tics in more layman’s terms. I’ve taken the liberty of cutting and pasting that article below.
The easiest way to understand how Sims and Stack explain Tourette Syndrome is to consider the experience of accidentally and unexpectedly hitting a thumb with a hammer, touching a stove, or stumping a toe. Many people will utter a loud “Ouch!” or “Darn” or some other expletive we cannot use on a family oriented website in response to pain.
Suppose the nerve fibers that conduct pain to the brain somehow got crossed with the nerve fibers involved in seeing a woman with large breasts, or being pulled over to the side of the road by a traffic policeman, or seeing a large yellow object. The brain might generate an impulse to say “Piggie! Piggie! Big tits!” or “F—-ing Pig! F—ing Pig!” or “Tweetie Bird! Tweetie Bird!” the same way it generates an impulse to say “S—!” when someone touches a hot stove.
(Andrea’s note of interjection: Moms, relax. Your kid is not going to curse in circle time. I promise. Moving on.)
People who have Tourette Syndrome tend to not to have “crossed wires” while they are focusing on difficult or interesting tasks. They often consciously try to suppress inappropriate speech and movements, until they just can’t. Sims and Stack tell us how this can happen.
The nerves leading from the muscles to the brain sometimes amplify pain signals to make sure the brain gets the message. “Fast” pain fibers in a large nerve enter the base of the brain from the face. Nerves that transmit information about temperature enter the brain at the same place, and the outgoing cranial nerves VII, IX, and X leave the brain in this region.
These cranial nerves control the front of the face, the sides of the face, and the lower digestive tract. Sims and Stack believe that if these nerves are compressed together, they may engage in cross talk, similar to a short circuit, transferring nerve impulses from one to another, partially bypassing the higher control centers of the brain. The stronger the nerve impulse, the harder it is for the higher levels of the brain — which are the usual targets of drug treatments — to intervene and stop the tic.
Dr. Sims and Dr. Stack treat Tourette Syndrome by relieving the physical pressure on the nerves entering the base of the brain so there is less cross talk. They have developed a plastic dental appliance they call a neurocranial vertical distractor, which “distracts” the fibers entering the base of the brain from the cross talk of neighboring nerves.
Fitting over the lower teeth, it holds the lower jaw in place so there is less pressure on the base of the brain. Wearing this appliance 24 hours a day reduces symptoms of Tourette disease in adults, as you can see on YouTube. When the proper spacing of the jaws is determined, these dentists report, all tics cease immediately.
Even more promising, however, is the possibility of using this dental appliance in treating younger children who are just beginning to have symptoms of Tourette. The first symptom of Tourette’s usually appears at the age of five, about the same time the skull grows tight over the area where the nerves involved in tics enter and exit the brain. The first tics usually involve the eyes.
Hi, this is Andrea again. Tomorrow, I’ll offer my final thoughts on Dr. Stack and Dr. Sims and whether I think their device is for real or not. Stay tuned!
Read more from me at Happily Ticked Off.