Empowering Women Chiropractic – TOTS & Primitive Reflexes – Monika Buerger

Hello everybody. I am Dr, Monika Buerger, and you are going to be in for a treat today on ChiroSecure’s Look To The Children show. Again, thank you, ChiroSecure, for making this possible and helping us to get the word out on valuable assets of chiropractic and how we can change lives in so many of these little farts around the world.

So, my guest today is Dr. Jenna Davis, chiropreneur, mom, author, lecturer, international lecturer, and all this while she’s on the road. She told me right before get on the show, in the fall she was on the road eight weekends in a row, and that is significant. And all this while she maintains a full-time practice in Ontario, Canada. She’s a graduate of National University in 2003.

She has created an incredible technique for intraoral work, the pediatric intraoral palette specific technique, and we’re going to talk about that today. Does tons of work with tethered oral restrictions, tethered oral tissues, tongue-tie, lip tie, fertility, and just a phenomenal leading edge chiropractor in our field in pediatrics. So, I’d like to introduce you. Dr. Jenna, welcome to the ChiroSecure Look To The Children show and thank you for hanging out with us.

Thanks so much. I’m excited to be here. Very exciting to get to chat with you.

Well, it was exciting to get you to be here because I know you have a crazy, crazy schedule. Before we get carried away, I want everybody to know about your website. It’s babyboomcreations.ca.


Not .com, you guys out there, but .ca. You have created quite the interaction with other professionals in your community to network with, is that correct?

Yes. And especially dealing with … It started when I was dealing with a lot of fertility patient. And so, that led to having more co-management. And then, now I’ve created a huge network for the pediatric population and a lot with the TOTs kids. And it’s amazing how you can work together.

And we’re going to dive into that a lot because that’s a hot topic issue, right? The tethered oral restrictions, tongue-ties, lip ties.


Okay, so we’re all seeing that, right? So, first of all, because we have so many amazing chiropractors out there, and wanting to hear from you because they know about your programs and know how awesome you are, can you give them one pearl … I know it’s hard … that can maybe help them start thinking about making inroads with interconnections within their community?

Absolutely. I’m going to probably give you two pearls because they kind of link together. So, what I would recommend is that with when you’re working with another professional, learn the language that they use. So, you have to speak their language. They don’t necessarily understand how chiropractic fits in. So, when you’re talking to them, I always use the word bodyworker. Because in Canada, bodyworkers are individuals who work with dural tension, TOTs kids, lip tie, tongue-tie. And so, I always say I do bodywork, I’m a chiropractor.

And so, that’s number one, because find out the language that is accepted for an individual who is working with an infant. Because individuals or professionals who don’t know what chiropractic is, especially when it comes to infants, have a preconceived notion that it is going to be an adult adjustment on an infant, which we know is not the case.

And then the other pearl that I would add to that is giving them feedback and making sure that you’re always using the word co-manage. So, I’d love to co-manage this practice member with you or co-manage this infant, giving them feedback. Or I always love sending a letter after I’ve seen them for the first time, whether it’s to the dentist, the midwife, the pediatrician, sharing what we are working on so they know that we know what we’re talking about. And then that will lead to way more referrals coming your way.

That’s amazing. Amazing, amazing tips. Hopefully you guys are paying attention out there. So, really essentially meet them where they’re at.

Absolutely. And I find a lot of chiropractors, especially when we’re so passionate and excited about pediatrics, we tend to want to shout it from the rooftops. But we’re speaking, we think, at a simple level, but we’re actually speaking a totally different language. We’re speaking Chinese and they’re speaking French. There is no similarity.

So, we have to understand how to educate. Just like we learned with our report of findings, how do we educate our practice members, our parents? We have to do the same thing to the professionals who are wanting to refer to us, because they’re looking. They need our help. They’re asking for our help. They just don’t know where to look.

Great, great, great. Yeah. So, bring it down and then simplify it to levels that they can understand our lingo. And then also let them know how we can be part of their picture.



Yeah, because they all … everyone wants to, depending on the professional, but some professionals, including other chiropractors, might be afraid that you are going to take their patients, and that is not the case. I co-manage all the time. I will always refer back or co-manage consistently.

Very good, very good. So, those are two hot dog pearls right there, what I call hot dog pearls. So, let’s dive into TOTs. Let’s tie it all together, so to speak. Pun intended, right? So, we’re seeing that thrown around a lot now on Facebook pages and social media pages, the hot ticket item kind of thing. And then personally, I’ve seen it also tied with the MTHFR gene.

And I think we need to take a step back and not blame it on one gene, per se … we’ve had that gene mutation for centuries … but rather how the epigenetic load is potentially playing into the reason why we’re seeing or recognizing more, and/or the fact that there are more stressors on the little fiddle farts. And so, maybe that restriction is playing a bigger role into the total picture. What’s your take on that?

So, a few things. I think the MTHFR is absolutely a challenge, but not just for tethered oral tissues. It’s a challenge, period. And so, the additional synthetic folic acid, which is why they’re talking about MTHFR in all our foods and in our supplements potentially creating more of a challenge. Yes, I will agree that that is a possibility and they’re part of it, but that’s not all of it. And there is a genetic component. You will see parents who then have tongue-tied children there. There absolutely is genetics. It’s multi-factorial.

But the one thing I want us to focus on is just because you have a frenum or frenulum, both words interchangeable depending on what profession you’re in. Just because it’s there does not mean that you are tongue-tied. So, you can have a functional … It’s about function of our tongue. And that is what I’m seeing a lot more of a lack of function, which is also coming from a lot of that dural tension, that pulling from the back.

And so, I think we have to not look at just the anatomy, but actually look at, okay, how much tension is there? How much function to the tongue is there? How much can it move? And so, I feel we are over diagnosing without looking at function, but we’re also missing a lot of kids who have lack of function because they don’t have an obvious tongue-tie, if that makes sense. So, I think we’re missing it on both sides.

Okay, makes sense. And the way I look at it, too, is as chiropractors we’re so passionate about removing subluxations.


Because that interferes with basically brain perception, what the brain can perceive from the body. There’s a disconnect from the brain to the body, the body to the brain. And with the current brain-based theory model of chiropractic, it’s really about perception, what the brain can perceive.

But if we have this restriction, a tethered oral restriction, it’s a fashion restriction. And if that is there, and it’s also going to impede that perception that the brain will receive. So, we want to remove subluxations as chiropractors, but we also need to look at the big picture on what that restriction potentially can look like or manifest in regards to neurological development.

Well, it has a huge impact, because the tongue’s motion has to hit the palate for it to also work on shaping our entire cranium. It’s working on giving more of that neurological input. It’s working on our swallowing. It’s working on our jaw development. So, it is so much more than just can I breastfeed or not.


Am I a picky eater or not. So, the challenge I’ve had with some chiropractors really struggling with accepting this as potentially being, we’ll call it a condition, whatever you want to call it, or a finding that potentially needs additional assistance beyond just what chiropractic is.

There’s a lot of challenge some chiropractors are facing with that, because they really want to believe in their true heart that the adjustment is going to allow it to solve. But when we’re working with an infant who is not able to breastfeed, or a child who their tongue is never hitting the roof of the mouth, and it’s changing all of that neurology and developmentally they’re missing all of these stages, we need assistance. But I always say, “Yes with the adjustment.”

So, the adjustment is still first and foremost, but we sometimes need to be co-managing these little munchkins for the greater good. We need to look at the greater picture, like you were saying. It’s so important.

Yeah. Thank you for saying that because you hit the nail on the head. What I see also so many chiropractors struggling with is, “Why can’t I fix this?”


Well, we really don’t fix anything, right? We [crosstalk 00:11:46] the nervous system to be at its optimal performance. But what we might see is these chronic subluxation patterns that we can’t clear because of this constant tension. So, we should be okay. So, all of you docs out there, feel okay with co-managing and understanding that it may be something that we need extra assistance with. And then we come back and we definitely want to do pre-care and post-care, but it might be something that we can’t always manage.

And we have to also remember, we’re working on a tight timeframe when we’re dealing with infants who are not eating properly. And it’s not just breastfeeding. Some of these infants, the parents might be … by the time they come in and see me, breastfeeding might be off the table. But they’re not even taking a bottle properly. They’re struggling. And you’ll see that … I see so much of that dural tension. That’s where chiropractic comes into play.

When I speak to lots of different professionals all around the world who are not chiropractors, who are dealing specifically or specializing with TOTs, and they find out you’re a chiropractor, they love you. They said, “Oh my goodness, I love chiropractors. We cannot do what we do without you.” And so, chiropractors, it’s okay for us to have assistance in co-managing because, let me tell you, it makes a world of difference.

One of the dentists that refers a lot to me, she often says, “I am so grateful when they’ve been seeing you first because I know whatever tension is still remaining under the tongue, that’s for me to deal with.” Because all of that dural tension, all the subluxations are being worked on and dealt with.

Right. And so, there’s other things we might see. They don’t like tummy time. You know they have digestive issues. And if we don’t do tummy time, what happens to our neurological development? [crosstalk 00:13:43] there. So, it’s just a big picture. It’s a big rabbit hole. But I want to dovetail this into you brought some magnificent points on you often see these tongue-ties with plagiocephaly, with torticollis.


We’re seeing those go together. So, lots of times it’s very difficult to clear those out unless you get the revision done. So, can you give a couple patterns that you tend to see?

For sure. So, what I oftentimes will see, a couple key things that we need to look at, especially with infants, is we have to always be assessing tone. And when you see an infant that can hold their head up from the time they’re born, that is not because they’re strong. That is a huge red flag for dural tension. And so, we have to be looking.

And oftentimes we will see that there is a huge amount of tension also under the tongue. It’s like it’s pulling, like you’re trying to stop a horse and they’re pulling from the back. And so, a lot of times you can see a line if draw a line here, and you’ll see actually the cranium pulling this way. So, those are some of the things I see.

Oftentimes I’ll also see that they aren’t able to open their mouth wide. They’ll sit with the resting posture as your tongue sticking out. So, we want to be looking at that. We’ll see them prefer to turn their head one way rather than the other, not necessarily a full torticollis, but absolutely restrictions and subluxation so they can’t create that rotation both ways evenly.

And then another thing is they can’t stick their tongue out. So, a reflex where you touch their lip and they’re supposed to be able to protrude their tongue past their lip, they can’t. They’ll get to here or maybe even just behind the gums. And so, those are some of the things that I see as clear indicators.

And absolutely the ones you were mentioning of hating tummy time, arching their back more. They’re kind of pulling back this way all the time. They don’t like to curl. They don’t like to snuggle in against you. They’re babies that like to face out all the time. Those are all great indicators that we have to look not just at the dural tension, but also I always say look under the tongue and let’s see what’s happening.

And then, if they’re a little bit older, picky eaters, children that gag a lot. If you put their finger in their mouth and they have a heightened gag reflex, we have to be looking at the cranium, at the palate, and definitely under the tongue. Because a lot of times it’s because the tongue has not been able to control flow, and so things have been hitting the back of their throat. And so, their brain says, “I’m going to choke if anything goes in my mouth, so let me gag while I figure it out first.”

Right. Phenomenal tips. Everybody needs to listen to this. Phenomenal, phenomenal, phenomenal. So, you have a palate specific technique. I know it’s on air, it’s probably a not able to demonstrate that, but can you talk a little bit about that?

Yeah, absolutely. So, I created what’s called the PIPS technique. And so, all I’ve done, I’m grateful for the fact that I’ve been lucky enough to be a speaker around the world. And when you speak around the world, you get exposed to brilliant minds and techniques around the world that we don’t always get in North America. And I took all of those and then just clinically what I’m seeing and put it together.

So, the Pediatric Intraoral Palate Specific technique, or PIPS, is a combination of looking at dural tension, tongue-tie, or tension under the tongue. Infant TMJD, so we’re working on releasing the pterygoids. We’re also feeling the palate to work on the sphenoid bone. And the sphenoid bone is something that’s so critical that that we work on because it has attachments to every part of the skull, the jaw or the TMJ, and top two vertebra in our neck.

So, we know if we’re seeing chronic subluxations or patterning, we have to look at the sphenoid as well. And for my docs, you can’t go intraoral in your province or in your state, and there are some in both countries, or in your country, wherever you may practice. You can’t access it externally.

But what I always recommend is try and demonstrate to the parents so they can do some of the work. It’s not an adjustment, but they can do some work intraorally at home. And I also challenge you to please talk to your board, because we can’t do a proper neurological exam on an infant without checking their suck reflex.

So, I would challenge you to take it to your board and say, “If we’re supposed to do a full neurological exam on infants and pediatrics, we have to be able to check their suck reflex and see if there is a way to make that happen.” And then therefore you can be demonstrating some of this work.

Phenomenal, phenomenal. And I love that you brought up the sphenoid. That sphenoid is so huge. And the sphenoid actually mimics the pelvics. They kind of go together. So, that’s how you can get some that dural tension if you don’t [crosstalk 00:18:49] from top to bottom.

A lot of times I’ll see it almost rotate. So, if we see the sphenoid going this way, we’ll see the sacrum going the opposite. It’s kind of like a … I call it almost like a twisted Slinky. And so, we have to balance both sides out.

Absolutely. Absolutely. So, what other things with … Okay, so with the twisted Slinky, I like that term, I also see with these presentations difficulty rolling, getting into a rolling pattern. Have you noticed that as well? Are they just want to roll to one side?

You’ll see them roll to one side. And actually you’ll see … Oftentimes I’ll see them, they rolled really early one way. And because they have so much tension, they’re twisting their head. So, they’re turning just because their head’s moving them. They’re not actually doing a rolling pattern because they hate tummy time. So, they’re not actually pushing up yet. They’re not doing all the stages. And so, you’ll see them roll one way.

I’ll also see them definitely do more of a commando crawl rather than being able to go on their hands and knees. So, they’ll be delayed in some of those stages, but they’ll really like to stand on their feet from a parent’s perspective.

But yes, the rolling one side. So, I will oftentimes give lots of homework to the parents, and they’re super fun exercises. Whether it’s I call it twisties, which is just needs to the chest twisting back and forth. It comes down to a lot of the primitive reflexes and actually taking them through some of the exercises, but taken down to a level for an infant that will help those reflexes integrate.

Right, exactly. And so, we’ll just roll right into that, so to speak. Because, first of all, everybody needs to know she has two incredible classes. She has the Advanced Pediatric Bootcamp, so you can find that on her website. And you’re rolling out a primitive reflex program next year.

Yeah, like a part two but for some more advanced retained primitive reflex and primitive reflex assessments. And then more importantly, homework and how we go through the stages to assess and then work with it.

So, if we have ties, if we have restrictions, if we have … Okay, as chiropractors we know, if we have subluxations and that little fiddle fart can’t get into these movement patterns, that can lead to those primitive reflexes not being allowed to integrate, because reflexes integrate as we move up in our motor patterns.


We get to those motor patterns. But the same thing applies to tethered ora restrictions.


Bringing this all together, this is where I’d like chiropractors at deal in the pediatric world to look at that big picture. Because then if those reflexes don’t integrate, we stay stuck in the limbic drive in the emotional center, flips off the prefrontal cortex, and now executive functioning, higher functioning, has a hard time getting on board.


So, you’ve seen those same patterns?

Absolutely. So, I see it all the time. And the really exciting part, what I love about the retained primitive reflex or just primitive reflexes, is the exercise that you use for infants … well, not so much infants, so that’s a separate world … but children can be the exact exercises you would give to an adult.

So, adults can also be a highly functioning adult, but have retained primitive reflexes that are hindering aspects of their overall function. And if we want to improve their quality of life and actually help with the subluxation patterns that we’re seeing consistently, we have to look at all ages.

And trust me, they actually like these exercises. It’s fun for them. When you hear they’ve always been clumsy, or you see that they can’t stop jiggling their leg, or you see that they have a lot of motion sickness, or whatever the case may be, docs, I encourage you, ask questions to your adults like they were some of the childhood questions.

So, ask if they have a history of longterm bed wedding. Ask if they were a C-section baby. A lot of times we skip those questions for our adults, but they’re really important so we can actually serve at our highest level possible.

Absolutely. Great points. Because if we’re stuck in that primitive brain and that prefrontal cortex flips off, the spinal stabilization muscles are flipped off as well. So, this just leads to that chronic subluxation patterns. So, this is our chronic patients where we’re adjusting over and over again, and they keep coming in and saying, “Doc, my back still hurts. I’m still getting headaches.”

I started working in this realm over 25 years ago. And your adjustments will hold so much better if you address it from both ends, so to speak.

Yeah. And the neat thing is it’s actually fun. So, it’s really fun and you can make changes very, very quickly. And so, I also find that not just the subluxation patterns that we’ll see over and over, but posture is huge.

When you see those practice members that even though they’re under care and they’re doing really well, their posture just isn’t changing the way you would expect, go back to those primitive reflexes. Put them through a few of the exercises.

And please take some classes on it. You can read lots, there’s lots of online courses, but it can be much simpler if you take some courses on it because you’ll know, “Okay, I don’t have to test all of those,” and so it fits into whatever model of practice you have.

It doesn’t have to be an extra 45 minutes in your visit. It can absolutely fit into whatever patient flow you have in your practice, whether it’s high volume of five every 15, 10 every 15 minutes, or one every 45 minutes. It doesn’t matter. It can always fit in.

Right. Yeah, because those primitive reflexes, they represent essentially the sensory systems. And two of the big sensory systems, vestibular and proprioceptive, is our core. So, we’ll tend to see those constant slumpers and so forth. And then we just battled that more with technology in this age. And then we know technology is just … Because these reflexes can re-emerge in times of stress.


[crosstalk 00:25:07] thoughts technology. So, it’s kind of this loop that we’re going through. But you have just brought incredible pearls. This is just a great conversation. I wish we could go on forever like we talked about before we got out [crosstalk 00:25:21]

18 hours.

So, everybody, I want you to look up her website, babyboom creations.ca. Any last parting pearls that you want to bestow upon the world?

I think the biggest thing when you’re … whether you’re new to some of this information, even if you see lots of pediatrics or you’re trying to get into more pediatrics, is trust yourself.

So, a lot of times you want to do things perfectly. And when we are so focused on doing things absolutely perfectly, we’re losing our intuition, we’re losing our observation. And when you’re dealing with infants and children specifically, you really need to use your powers of observation, use your knowledge, use your gut and your touch. So, you want to be working on all of those things together. So, trust yourself.

And start even with testing for one primitive reflex or start doing one exercise to see is there a lot of tension as far as a tethered oral tissue. Are there tongues lifting up? Pick one or two, start with that. You can add to it, but even that will make a huge difference.

So, we have to just keep it simple, and trust that you have the knowledge in you. Sometimes we just need little bit of extra help, but you have the knowledge in you. And this is chiropractic, and I want chiropractors to be at the forefront of working with a lot of these little munchkins. Because there’s so many other professionals that add a lot from a bodywork standpoint, but none of them can also add the adjustment.

And so, when you can put that all together, that is like the cherry on top. That is what’s going to allow them to improve and function to their highest potential. So, that’s my big drive.

Absolutely. Managing the life flow, the life force and … not managing but manifesting it through adjustment is so incredibly powerful. And that’s what we own, and that’s what we contribute.


It’s just that nobody else could do that. So, thank you so much for your time and being here, and maybe we can do round two one day.

Yes, I would love it.

Okay. Hopefully we’ll meet up one day again on the circuit out there, but have a …

Pretend to be on other provinces in other countries and …

But again, thank you so much. And the wisdom you shared, it was phenomenal, so thanks again.

Thank you so much.

And all of you out there, join Dr. Erik Kowalke on the first Thursday of every month where he brings incredible information. I’ll be back the third Thursday of December with Dr. Krista Burns and some posture and neuro pearls for you. And again, thank you, ChiroSecure, for giving us this platform and really helping us to be out there and change lives and change the future. And I’m signing out, and we’ll hope to see you in the future.

Today’s pediatric show, Look To The Children, was brought to you by ChiroSecure, and the award winning book series, I Am a Lovable Me. Make sure you join us next week, right here at the same time. See you next week.

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