Journal of the International Clinical Dental Research Organization

: 2015  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 162--164

What is the role of physiological coherence and epigenetics in the etiology of dental caries?

Lynette Wallace 
 Owner PlanetSmiles, Bowral, Australia

Correspondence Address:
Lynette Wallace
Suite 5, 70 Bowral St, New South Wales, Bowral 2576


This short communication aims to highlight the role that physiological coherence may play in dental caries. Although many theories are proposed, there is no universally accepted theory for the etiology of dental caries. Existing theories tend to give power to insults from outside the organism, whereas the theory of physiological coherence gives power to the organism operating in harmony which offers protection from within. Does physiological coherence play a role in dental decay? Is dental decay a sign of a breakdown in physiological coherence? Is there more than one mechanism of decay? Physiological coherence occurs when the heart and brain are well-coordinated, united by our positive emotional health; resulting in increased synchronization, harmony, and efficiency in the interactions within and among the physiological, cognitive, and emotional systems of the body, including the craniofacial region, which produces saliva. High heart coherence causes an increased order and complexity in crystallization patterns in human saliva which releases the intelligence embedded in the proteins. When there is physiological incoherence such as in mouth breathing, the salivary proteins become dysfunctional; and thereby, allowing caries unopposed access to the tooth surfaces. It is proposed that should this be the case then caries management should be directed to include methods to regain coherence so as to harmonize the body systems to regain correct signaling and function.

How to cite this article:
Wallace L. What is the role of physiological coherence and epigenetics in the etiology of dental caries?.J Int Clin Dent Res Organ 2015;7:162-164

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Wallace L. What is the role of physiological coherence and epigenetics in the etiology of dental caries?. J Int Clin Dent Res Organ [serial online] 2015 [cited 2017 Sep 21 ];7:162-164
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For years dentists have been taught that the predominant cause of dental caries is a poor diet, particularly refined sugars and starches, which enhance the growth of acid-producing organisms that inhabit the mouth and cause dental decay. On the other hand, epidemiological researchers such as Weston Price questioned this theory. Price attributed dental decay to an absence of protective factors, such as phosphorous and fat soluble vitamins and minerals which are plentiful in whole foods but devoid in processed foods. [1] Indeed, as science explores new frontiers, our understanding of systemic response to dietary insult is beginning to gather pace.

Bearing gene - environmental interactions in mind, the author would like to propose that a higher-order interplay may be involved in dental decay, that of psychophysiological coherence (PPC). [2] PPC essentially is a physiologic state that corresponds to the harmonization of different systems; it is derived from a dynamic synchronization of mental, emotional, and biological functions. [3]

 Psychophysiological Coherence

Recent research has established a significant, complex, and highly sophisticated connection between the human heart and brain, which is driven by our emotional health. [2] When the heart and brain are well-coordinated, united by our positive emotional health; there is a global shift in psychophysiological functioning, resulting in increased synchronization, harmony, and efficiency in the interactions within and among the physiological, cognitive, and emotional systems of the body, including the craniofacial region, which produces saliva. The objective of this short communication is to apply this model to determine whether PPC can help explain dental decay as observed in mouth breathing individuals. [Figure 1] below illustrates the pathway by which the heart modulates the brain activity.{Figure 1}

 The Role of Breathing in Developing PPC

Breathing patterns modulate the heart's rhythm. [4] Referring to [Figure 2], when in the state of rest or semiactivity, the autonomic nervous system takes its cue from the breathing frequency. Breathing at a relatively rapid pace, even while seated and relaxed, results in an autonomic shift toward sympathetic emphasis; sympathetic emphasis often being characterized as the "fight or flight" response. The degree of emphasis varies directly with the rate of breathing. Sympathetic emphasis is characterized by a relatively faster average heartbeat rate, reduced heart rate variability, increased heart duty cycle, and reduced heart rate variability coherence as well as other physical and physiological changes. [4]{Figure 2}

The heartbeat naturally varies with the breathing cycle, this phenomena is referred to as "respiratory sinus arrhythmia" (RSA). The heartbeat rate increases with inhalation and decreases with exhalation. The amplitude and frequency of the heart rate variability pattern relates strongly to the depth and frequency of respiration. RSA is the physiological consequence of the dynamic interaction of cardiac and pulmonary centers located in the medulla oblongata. [4]

It is possible to generate a coherent heart rhythm by breathing slowly and regularly at a 10-s rhythm. To be able to do this automatically, it is necessary to generate an intentional heartfelt positive emotional state such as compassion, appreciation, and gratitude. In fact, certain organizations, such as the Institute of HeartMath, have computerized biofeedback programs to assist in learning to do this.

Positive emotions excite the system at its natural resonant frequency and enable coherence to emerge and be maintained naturally without conscious mental focus. When the heart's rhythm shifts into coherence as a result of a positive emotional shift, our breathing rhythm automatically synchronizes with the heart, thereby reinforcing and stabilizing the shift to a system-wide coherence, which leads to increased intuition and creativity, cognitive and performance improvements, and hormonal balance. [2]

Conversely when nasal obstruction is present (such as that associated with a modern processed diet) secondary to adenotonsillar hypertrophy, deviated septum/nasal congestion, high-vaulted narrow palate, etc.; regulated breathing becomes impossible due to irregular rhythms set up by mouth breathing. Mouth breathing makes it impossible to achieve the three important changes that occur with PPC. These changes are:

The two components of the autonomic nervous system synchronize with each other with a shift back to parasympathetic activity.Physiological entrainment, whereby body systems synchronize to the heart's rhythm.Increased synchronization between the heart and the brain.

Coherence also increases the ordering and complexity of crystal structure. [5] In fact, salivary proteins have been found to change shape, depending on whether the body is in coherence or not. [5]

Mouth breathing causes incoherence in the physiology of the body.Incoherent breathing causes a change in structure of the salivary proteins.Salivary proteins become nonfunctional and are unable to fulfill their protective role.Other regulatory protein and signaling dysfunction throughout the body leads to systemic degeneration.

When breathing nonproductively over a long period of time (mouth breathing due to stress, allergies, nasal obstruction, etc.), the parasympathetic nervous system becomes dysfunctional. This dysfunction leads to a sympathetic dominance, a condition shared by most modern adults to some degree. Thus, sympathetic dominance results in diminished circulation, muscle tightness, anxiety, pain, and a myriad of other symptoms, including aging. Note that evidence is emerging, which suggests that a function of the craniofacial sinuses may be to produce nitric oxide (NO). NO is a small vessel dilator, which could promote pulmonary alveolar ventilation. However, NO has numerous roles throughout the body, and its perturbation might represent a regulatory protein and signaling dysfunction throughout the body that leads to degeneration.

Specifically, we posit that coherence affects the saliva, turning it from functional to dysfunction. In a recent study, the HeartMath Research Center was able to show increased crystal structure and order following coherence practice. [5] Both crystal size and order increased after coherence practice. Therefore, diminished PPC might precipitate dysfunctional saliva, which can no longer bathe the teeth with functional immunoglobulins. In turn, interproximal decay takes over as a predominant cause of caries, allowing it to progress rapidly and unopposed. In contrast, with enhanced PPC there is fully functioning saliva, and the decay is much less rapid, darker in color, and affects fewer teeth, mainly in the pits/fissures and smooth surfaces. Therefore, this article provides some preliminary thoughts to support the contention that PPC might benefit the dental professions to prevent or retard the progression of dental caries.


I would like to thank Prof. Dave Singh for his contribution and advice in preparing this article.


1Weston A. Price. Nutrition and Physical degeneration 4 th ed. La Mesa: Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, Inc; 2000 p. 281.
2McCraty R, Rees R. The central role of the heart in generating and sustaining positive emotions. Boulder Creek: The Institute of Heart Math; HeartMath Research Centre Publication No. 06-022 2006 2009 p 26.
3McCraty R. The energetic heart bioelectromagnetic interactions within and between people. Boulder Creed: The Institute of HeartMath; HeartMath Research Centre Publication 2003 p. 3.
4Coherent Breathing - The Definitive Method by Elliott, S. and Edmonson, P . R. N. Coherence Press 2008; p. 19.
5Dehyle A, Waterman J. Heart Coherence increases order of crystallisation patterns in dried saliva study. HeartMath Research Centre, Boulder Creek; Institute HeartMath, Vol 1, p 1.