One year ago I didn’t know what a cavitation was -let alone, heard of the term “Neuralgia Inducing Cavitational Osteonecrosis” (NICO, for short). But the world of electrodermal screening (otherwise known as “Electrical acupuncture according to Voll or EAV), which I have written about in previous columns, has given me new insights into the causes and cures of illness.

For many years, I had known and written about the generalized health issues connected with dental health, especially the consequences of various dental procedures such as the use of metal amalgam fillings and root canals. The underlying premise being that there is a very strong energetic connection between the teeth, gums and jaw, on the one hand, and the rest of the body, on the other. From this perspective, dentistry is an integral aspect of medicine. It is said that Rheinhard Voll, the physician who invented electrodermal screening, estimated that approximately 80% of the chronic illness he saw in his patients stemmed from dental related problems.

Cavitations are yet another dental condition that often have far reaching impact on a persons health. The word “cavitation” basically means a hole and it appeared in medical literature over two centuries ago to to describe a group of diseases that cause bone deterioration and loss.

A synonymous term, “ischemic osteonecrosis” (meaning “the death of bone tissue due to lack of blood supply”) is a current medical expression describing a condition that can affect any bone tissue in the body, but most commonly associated with a severe condition of the hip. (For you sports fans out there, this is the condition that led to the premature retirement of the baseball/football star Bo Jackson.)

In the mid-19th century, “cavitation” was used in a dental text to describe a condition characterized by dead tissue, known as necrosis, in the jawbone. This necrosis of the jaw was recognized as a problem separate and independent from abscessed teeth and gums. In the early part of this century, this condition was referred to as “chronic osteitis.”

Today, cavitations are most often associated with tooth extractions. Mark Breiner, DDS, in his book “Whole Body Dentistry” offers this description: “A cavitation is a hole in the bone, usually where a tooth has been removed and the bone has not filled in properly.”

The reason that the extraction of a tooth can result in a cavitation is because usually the periodontal membrane that surrounds the tooth is not removed during the procedure. Although the bone will regrow in the area left open by the extracted tooth, it often will be incomplete with holes and spongy tissue instead of solid health bone tissue.

One of the most insidious factors about cavitations of the jaw is that they usually do not display the common symptoms of infection such as inflammation, redness, fever or pus. To make matters worse, even though it was first identified in the dental literature a century and a half ago, dentists are generally not educated about the condition in dental school, let alone taught how to recognize it.

So, the great majority of cavitations develop untreated over long periods of time. The most significant problem associated with cavitations is that they become a focal point for toxins such as bacteria, which are then circulated throughout the body causing various medical conditions. They travel via blood and lymph channels and through nerve pathways to other areas of the body. In a way, it is like have a gangrene of the jaw where the symptoms do not appear locally, but metastasize to other areas.

Over fifty years ago, a book entitled Death and Dentistry, written by a medical doctor and professor of physiology, identified focal infections of the jaw or tonsils as the cause of a staggering number of conditions.

These include inflammations of heart valves, muscle,and tissues surrounding the heart (the pericardium), chronic muscle and joint inflammations, nerve inflammations and neuralgias. One of the most commonly cited problems related to cavitations is NICO, Neuralgia Inducing Cavitational Osteonecrosis. This is a condition in which the person suffers from sometimes debilitating referred pains, often in the face or head, as a result of cavitations.

These metastatic infections can also lead to ulcers, gall bladder problems, cystitis, pneumonia, bronchitis, rheumatism, asthma, pleuritis, nephritis, thyroid disease, herpes, iritis, poliomyelitis, multiple sclerosis, certain skin disorders, diabetes, migraines, hypertension and more.

The trauma leading to jawbone necrosis is for the most part a result of dental treatment. Large fillings, crowns, bridges periodontal scaling, tooth extractions, injections and other procedures can all reduce the blood supply to the jawbone. This will impede the toxins from leaving the bone, as well as the nutrients and oxygen from getting in. Along with extractions, root canals and even high speed drilling can also damage the jawbone.

Dental surgery to cut out the osteonecrotic area of the jaw is necessary to treat cavitations. The older the cavitation site, the more complicated it becomes to remove the decayed matter. This is in part due to difficulty in actually visualizing the full extent the necrotic area in the jaw. On top of that, patients who have suffered with chronic cavitations need to detoxify and rebuild their system. This must be done as an individualized protocol usually involving a combination of nutritional, herbal and homeopathic remedies.


This article is based on information contained in the following references:

Breiner, Mark. Whole Body Dentistry. Quantum Health Press: Fairfield, CT. 1999.

Fischer, Martin H. Death and Dentistry. Charles C. Thomas, LTD: Springfield, IL, 1940.

Stockton, Susan. Beyond Amalgam: The Health Hazard Posed by Jawbone Cavitations.  Power of One Publishing:  Aurora, CO, 2000.

Julian Jonas, CCH, Lic. Ac. is a certified homeopath practicing in Keene, NH and Saxtons River, VT. He can be contacted in VT at 802-869- 2883, in NH at 603-358-0035, or via email at


A cavitation is simply a hollow space or pocket in the bone. Not visible to the eye and often causing no obvious symptoms, cavitations are often overlooked as the cause for a varitey of medical conditions including facial pain (hence one of its names, NICO – Neuralgia Inducing Cavitational Osteonecrosis).  Trauma to the jaw, often brought on by standard dental treatment - especially tooth extraction - is usually the cause of a cavitation.

The hollow space of a cavitation becomes the breeding ground for various micro-organisms. As long as they are contained in the local area, the condition is symptomless. But over time, as the natural defenses that keep the micro-organisms in check weaken - either through aging or any number of stress, the micro-organisms and the toxins they produce spread to other areas of the body via the lymph, blood and nerves.

The end result can be a systemic condition that can cause pain, weakness, impaired nutrition, and a host of other disease conditions specific to organs and glands throughout the body.

The treatment for cavitation is surgical removal of the infected and gangrenous bone. Short of completer removal of this tissue, the cause of the condition remains intact and the toxins will continue to circulate throughout the body.

When performed on a recent extraction site, the surgery is a relatively uncomplicated. But at old extraction sites are concerned the task is more difficult because it is not easy to image the actual cavitation site. Without a clear picture, it is hard to determine whether the area has been completely cleaned of the infected or necrotic tissues.

Since X-rays are two dimensional images, they are not the best diagnostic tool for discerning the state of the a three dimensional problem. Likewise, MRIs, although very accurate tools for imaging necrosis in most of the rest of the bones in the body, have proven to be difficult to interpret for the facial bones.

Operating without the ability to see the full extent of the condition often makes it impossible for a dentist to remove all the necrotic bone tissue. This resulted in poor bone healing and unchecked spreading of necrotic lesions, as well as the need for repeat surgeries. The picture is complicated by the fact that most people with signifcant jawbone cavitations have had themfor a number of years before getting treated. Consequently, by the time surgery is performed, a great deal of serious damage has already occured.

Fortunately, about 10 years major technological advance was achieved with the development of a device known as the “Cavitat”. It is a sonographic instrument - that is, a device that uses the reflection of high-freqency sound waves to picture a structure - designed to do the opposite of the ultrasound equipment commonly used today. The typical ultrasound is used to image soft tissue, such as the heart, gall bladder or tumor. But the Cavitat images only bone, no soft tissue.

Moreover, while the common ultrasound displays 2-dimensional pictures, the Cavitat shows a 3- dimensional color-coded image. As one researcher familiar with the technicalities of the instrumentation writes: “These colors (green, yellow, red) reflect the degree of bone loss and necrosis. The 3-D computer images may be rotated so that they can be viewed from all angles. One image is generated for each of the 32 tooth sites, and all can be displayed on the screen simultaneously. This allows the operator to see the overall picture and how one affected site can influence adjacent ones.”

It is interesting to note that the creation of the Cavitat was the result of one man’s quest to resolve his own debilitating health problems. A full-time commercial airline pilot and part-time as a ski instructor, Bob Jones had been a healthy, active outdoorsman until about 15 years ago. At that time, he was stricken with chronic debilitating fatigue, muscle atrophy and a neurological condition that baffled specialists. Within five years, he had become completely disabled, was wheelchair bound, had lost use of his arms and gained an excessive amount of weight.

Even lacking any definitive diagnosis, his condition appeared to be fatal. With no medical solution or assistance available, Jones began his own search for the cause and cure of his condition. This lead him to an an awareness that his silver amalgam fillings (silver color, but essentially made of mercury and a host of other metals) along with chronic infections in his jaw were the possible causes of a systemic toxicity that was basically poisoning him. Indeed, with the removal of the fillings and surgery on his bone, his symptoms improved. Although he has made a dramatic recovery, due to the extent of the damagae done before he was treated, Jones is not completely cured.

Due to this set of circumstances Jones was motivated to create an instrument to detect cavitations. With a engineering background in sonar technology, he believed that sonography could be the means by which reliable images of the jaw and cavitations could be created. His pursuit eventually lead to the creation of the Cavitat.

This article is based on information contained in the following references:

Breiner, Mark. Whole Body Dentistry. Quantum Health Press: Fairfield, CT. 1999.

Fischer, Martin H. Death and Dentistry. Charles C. Thomas, LTD: Springfield, IL, 1940.

Stockton, Susan. Beyond Amalgam: The Health Hazard Posed by Jawbone Cavitations.  Power of One Publishing:  Aurora, CO, 2000.