Did you know that a lifetime of foot or leg or back pain might possibly be cured by realigning the jaw?
“Every part of the body is either directly or indirectly connected to every other part, and the solution to a problem in one part might be found in almost any other part,” says Dr. Charles “Chuck” M. Hulsey, a highly respected Ramona orthodontist who has developed and patented many procedures and instruments used in tracking down the sometimes elusive problems connected with the jaw and nervous system.
With an ever open and inquiring mind, Hulsey has spent 40 years working with other medical specialists, podiatrists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, experts in homeopathy, cranial osteopathy, herbalists, nutritionists — indeed, anyone and everyone from here and many foreign lands who can expand his understanding of the human body and mind.
“We owe it to our patients to pursue every possible avenue that might lead them to a better quality of life,” said Hulsey.
Born in a small town close to the Canadian border in Washington State, Hulsey said he “enjoys small towns like Ramona, especially for raising a family.”
A lifelong gifted athlete himself, he believes that any student with some athletic ability can enjoy many sports in a small town school, like he did, excelling in football, track and basketball.
He learned to ride horses at his grandfather’s ranch, tie flies for fly fishing and reload ammunition, something he still does for his shooting hobby. He became an expert water skier and was one of the first barefoot water skiers on a nearby lake in the 1950s. And now he still goes snow skiing and Rollerblading for exercise.
Hulsey graduated with honors from the University of Southern California School of Dentistry and sought immediately to continue his education to a master’s degree. However, at that time, an applicant needed to have two years of orthodontic experience or two years in military service to be admitted to a West Coast school.
So Hulsey followed a fraternity brother to the Midwest, attending Washington University in St. Louis, where he earned his master’s degree. It was a “great choice,” said Hulsey, “because St. Louis is the center of the American Association of Orthodontics and we were able to learn a lot from the close association.”
The nation was in turmoil. The Vietnam War was at its height, and Hulsey joined the U.S. Air Force, which sent him to the Tachikawa Air Base in Japan as a captain, where he practiced his orthodontics skills on 70,000 dependants of U.S. forces in the Far East. It also gave him the chance to study Japanese medical practices and teach U.S. orthodontic protocols at Japanese universities.
By 1970, with three years of Air Force service behind him, Hulsey returned to civilian life and once again followed the advice of a good friend who recommended the San Diego area as a place to begin practicing.
He opened in Solana Beach, which was a perfect fit, because as a young man he loved the ocean, spending most of his spare time in Hawaii or at any nearby beach, where he got into the habit of wearing Hawaiian shirts. He started wearing them in the 1970s and still does, even though, he admits, “They have gone in and out of style a couple of times since then.”
It also gave him the chance to study with the outstanding orthodontist, Dr. Robert Ricketts, who invented the first tomographic X-ray machine to take pictures of the jaw joints, or, in orthodontic speak, the temporomandibular (try that five times fast) joints.
Intrigued, Hulsey bought one of Ricketts’ machines and continued his research.
During the early years of Hulsey’s practice, virtually no one knew how to treat or understood TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) and, with characteristic determination, Hulsey set out to find answers.
It was this search that took Hulsey on a journey down the major highways of traditional medicine where, he said, he found little of value and continued around the lesser known byways of alternative medicine, where he started to find solutions.
The pain in the jaw joint was rarely caused by the jaw joint itself. It was mainly a muscle imbalance problem involving the muscles of the head and neck caused by involved muscles elsewhere in the body, said Hulsey. He found that in some cases the whole body structure was out of alignment, and he started to find answers that worked.
As a result, he developed his own system called the Structural Balance Solution. With other health practitioners, he works to achieve the structural balance that can bring about a total resolution of the TMJ problem.
In 1978, as a result of these studies, he started the Holistic Dental Association, which has grown from only a handful at the beginning to more than 600 members today, all working to learn all that alternative health has to offer in their practice.
Like top performers in any field, Hulsey had a desire to teach and to spread what he was learning to as wide an audience as possible. He started lecturing across the country and gave weeklong seminars at his offices and, in 1981, became a diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics — the highest achievement in orthodontics.
By 1992, Hulsey was ready to take time off to be with his family, as his daughter Christiana and son Charley were proving to be accomplished athletes in high school.
He by no means, however, retired from life. In fact, for many years he has bordered on being an extreme athlete.
Hulsey has river rafted on some of the most dangerous rivers in North America, almost losing one of his group in Canadian waters. He sailed to Hawaii, almost capsizing in a race off Diamond Head. He helicopter skied and on one trip had the guide go off the edge of a cliff right in front of him. Fortunately the guide landed in a tree and only broke a ski.
A world ski champion ran a mogul camp and offered Hulsey a job as instructor, but he turned it down because he would have had to leave his practice. As a private pilot he had his engine die in his Cessna aircraft at 10,000 feet, but he managed to glide down and land on the U.S. Air Force base at Gila Bend, Ariz.
“Boy, was that expensive,” recalled Hulsey. “They hit me with a $10,000 fine! I decided not to press my luck any further and sold the plane, and I’m no longer searching for any hair-raising adventures.”
By 1995, the family was settled and Hulsey wanted to get back to what he describes as the “thrill of the research and the pleasure of the patients.”
His practice has always been recognized for high quality state-of-the-art orthodontics, hence its name, Leading Edge Orthodontics, with offices at 1721 Main St., Suite 102 in Ramona, as well as La Mesa and Rancho Bernardo. Dr. Hulsey feels very fortunate to have a long standing team working alongside him, many of the team has been in the orthodontic field for over twenty years. Along with Dr. Hulsey, they have set a high standard for patient care and have a great rapport with each patient.
Hulsey’s orthodontic treatment is unique because he is very concerned with the bite and its relationship with the rest of the body structure.
“Improper jaw position,” Hulsey explains, “cannot only cause headaches, neck ache and back pain, but can affect an athlete’s strength and cause injuries.”
He has found that, by totally balancing an athlete’s structure, the athlete can improve performance and overcome some injuries easier and faster.
Hulsey has found that about 20 percent of his orthodontics patients have a TMJ syndrome problem subtly manifesting itself.
“Studies have revealed that 38 percent of a person’s neural input (from all parts of the body) goes through the jaw joint area, so problems here can play havoc on a patient’s health and performance,” he said.
Focusing intensely on preventive orthodontics, Hulsey likes to see children when they are young — 6 to 7 years of age — because he can evaluate the jaw relationships and see if change is needed. He can do this with dento-facial orthopedic appliances without resorting to the old headgear still used in some offices.
This procedure is done to make enough room for future permanent teeth, to alleviate future extractions and to balance facial components. This is what Hulsey calls Phase I of an orthodontic treatment.
When all the permanent teeth have “erupted,” Phase II begins.
“If the jaws are in a normal relationship, then the next challenge is the teeth. Are the proper number there and is there enough room for them to be straight? The jaw can be expanded but, if there is severe crowding, permanent teeth may have to be removed,” Hulsey said, adding that, because of newer developments, there is much less extraction of teeth than in past years.
“In fact, extractions of permanent teeth are almost never done with the current new Damon braces,” he said. “There is even an improvement in them, called Insignia, where impressions of a patient’s malocclusion are scanned into a computer.
“The teeth are set up to an ideal position and are measured to get dimensions to machine the new braces,” said Hulsey. “The braces are machined exactly to the positions that the patient’s teeth need to be placed in. These braces are placed by the computer on the virtual teeth and this is used to construct wires that will attain the ideal result. Templates are made so the orthodontist can place the real braces in the exact position on the teeth.
“It is a very exacting technique, but it is the optimum, at present, and will be for years to come.”
Unfortunately, said Hulsey, some patients are allergic to the materials used in making the braces.
But that is no problem for him.
With his multi-disciplinary background, he can dig into his holistic skills to evaluate whether the braces under consideration could cause problems, and, if so, seek out alternatives.
“We take the time to get to know our patients and any special needs they may have,” said Hulsey. “I can say with confidence that you won’t find more advanced solutions, more options to fit your needs, or a staff more eager to assist you. We have the ability to meet your expectations.”