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Natural Awakenings Tucson

A Paradigm Shift in Treating Chronic TMJ-Related Pain

Dr. Steve Swidler

Steve Swidler, DDS, received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Illinois, and his dental degree from the University of Illinois Dental School in 1972. After two years of clinical and private practice in Chicago. Swidler relocated to Tucson in 1974 and entered a deeply committed educational direction in holistic and integrative approaches.

He has a background in electro acupuncture, kinesiology, craniosacral osteopathy and biodynamic manual medicine, as well as other well-known healing modalities. He is a pioneer in holistic dentistry, the founder of Medicine Wheel Dental and Wellness Center and the inventor of the ReOrient Express Percussion Table.

Since 1979, Swidler’s postgraduate work in craniosacral osteopathic approaches have been implemented effectively into a new approach for treating temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)/ jaw/bite dysfunction and how it relates to overall body alignment and function. Swidler lectures nationally and internationally on these innovative concepts.

“If bodywork or corrections for TMJ give relief but don’t seem to hold, it may be that the bite and specifically, the ball-and-socket jaw joint, is out of alignment and can be throwing off the alignment of the neck, back and hips,” notes Swidler. “Level hips are the platform we need to achieve and maintain balanced structural alignment, thus reducing pain and other symptoms.”

Dental education teaches that the only moving bone in the head is the mandible (the M in TMJ), and treat from that understanding. Swidler explains, “Physicians trained in cranial osteopathy, however, understand that all 29 bones of the head move in a subtle, fluid, equal and opposing motion. This is true until they become distorted or locked up by falls, injuries, trauma or physical or emotional stress.

“If the jaw joint position is off, the base of the skull and neck are off, which can throw the hips and low back out of alignment. To achieve the best structural alignment, overall health and optimum physical performance, we need good posture, combined with the equal and opposing unrestricted motion normally found in the body and of the bones of the head.”

Swidler also knows that restrictions will distort function and position and can impinge on nerves serving the entire body. “When the hips are not level, the sciatic nerve is pinched or interfered with, causing low back, hip and leg pain,” he says. “With simple, removable dental appliances as part of a program that keeps balancing the jaw joint position, dentists can continue to release identified restrictions in the head and body; stabilize the new alignment by adjusting the appliances; and reeducate and strengthen muscles, posture and body use patterns to keep optimal alignment and function. Exercise without balanced alignment can cause injury.”

Swidler comments, “After treating tooth decay, disease and infection in the mouth, this foundational approach allows the dentist to create beautiful, healthy smiles that can stabilize optimal health, freedom and high-level wellness, often after reducing from 50 percent to 80 percent of the pain and tightness that people have been living with for years.”

Medicine Wheel Dental and Wellness Center, the practice of Dr. Steve Swidler, DDS, is located at 4650 W. Jojoba Dr. For more information, call 520-743-7101 or visit