RELIEF FOR PEOPLE IN PAIN
These are stories about actual patients*, treated by Dr. Cooper, each of whom had different symptoms caused by a very common illness, called temporomandibular disorder (TMD).
While TMJ / TMD afflicts people in different ways, it is almost always treatable. With the types of therapy described in this web site, using computerized testing and state-of-the-art equipment and techniques, we were able to create a neuromuscular-based occlusion -- a healthy bite -- that provided lasting relief. While treatments and outcomes of these patients varied, no one required medication or surgery!
I'm sharing my own story on this web site as well, as it illustrates my personal experience with TMJ / TMD -- how it affected my life and the lives of those close to me -- and how the neuromuscular treatment I embraced became the centerpiece of my professional practice.* Patient names have been changed to protect their privacy.
Dr. Cooper's Story
Actual Patient Stories
About these Patients
My Journey Begins...
In 1979, my wife developed a temporomandibular disorder with symptoms of headache, dizziness, neck pain and clenching of her teeth. Her upper front teeth had begun to spread. As a practicing dentist, I was particularly eager to find a solution to my wife's painful problems, but as I researched the field, I found that none of the current approaches to treatment involved measurements. They were essentially trial-and-error techniques.
When I discovered articles written by Bernard Jankelson, DMD, of Seattle, Washington, I recognized a promising approach. He had invented an instrument to relax facial muscles and another to record and analyze the movements of the jaw. He had developed a treatment philosophy based on the establishment of a healthy bite coordinated with relaxed, balanced muscle function, called a neuromuscular occlusion. This was revolutionary, since at that time few dentists recognized the essential role of healthy muscle function in healthy occlusion, effective jaw function, and most importantly, facial, head and neck comfort...a treatment for TMJ/TMD!
My wife and I flew to Seattle in April 1979 to take a training course with Dr. Jankelson. When Dr. "J," as he was affectionately called, asked for a volunteer from the group of dentists in the course to be tested on the instruments he had created, I raised my hand. I felt I should personally experience the procedures that I was learning to perform. Wearing a mouth appliance, "a splint," would be the best way for me to experience what I would be recommending to my patients.
I never dreamed that at that point, my professional and personal life and my physical comfort would change dramatically. I had experienced headaches several times a week since childhood. I took medicines only when essential to get rid of the headaches, but never found a way to prevent them from occurring. Within a week of wearing Dr. J's splint, I realized that I had not had a headache. After several months, I occasionally experimented with not wearing the splint and my headaches re-occurred. A return to using the splint caused the headaches to disappear -- without any medicines. I decided to replace the removable, temporary appliance with stronger, more durable crowns (caps) on my teeth. By this time, I had already done the same for my wife for whom I had made a series of splints. We made another trip to Seattle the following summer and my back teeth were crowned to create the same, exact, electronically-measured occlusion (bite) that the plastic splints had created, and which had successfully cured my headaches for a year. That was twenty-seven years ago, and while I may experience an occasional headache related to a sinus cold, I've been virtually headache-free ever since -- and so has my wife.
I began to share this sound, effective and safe treatment for TMJ / TMD with my patients -- and many have their own positive stories to tell.
"Dr Barry Cooper. Yes!"
"I had been experiencing minor pain in my neck and jaw for a while. And ignored it. Nothing serious. Than all of a sudden it seemed everything hurt. From the hair on my head to the hair on my toes. An elbow. A cheek. A shoulder. A thigh. A hip. A temple. You name it. In fact I had so many pains that if I had a new one, I wouldn't be able to feel it for week. The condition lasted for a year. And survived a dozen specialists. Until my doctor suggested TMJ. And the guy down the hall---Dr. Barry Cooper. Yes!"
Martin, 51, sought treatment for recurrent headaches, burning mouth sensation, neck pain and more. He found relief with a neuromuscular orthosis. He stopped wearing it, but after five years his symptoms began to reappear. He resumed wearing his orthosis and he's symptom-free again.
No more fear of elevators or subway tunnels
"Being treated by Dr. Cooper has changed my life. I have virtually no facial muscle spasms, earaches, ear pain caused by pressure changes, sounds in my ears or general facial pains with my appliance in place. I no longer dread going in elevators or subway tunnels. My quality of life is much improved because I don't have to live with facial pain anymore."
Lillian, 52, experienced a range of painful symptoms, from ear pain, dizziness and tinnitus, to an inability chew hard foods, difficulty swallowing and headaches. Referred to Dr. Cooper by an ENT specialist, she was treated with a neuromuscular appliance that created and maintained a healthy bit.
Fast relief for long-term problem
" I was unable to chew hard food or open my mouth wide enough to eat a sandwich. My jaw would lock into a limited range, and at times, would lock open. . . I remain grateful to you and all your computerized wizardry".
Valerie, 37, suffered from severe head, face, ear and jaw pain. While her dentist recommended the use of a soft night-guard, exercises and massage therapy, nothing had a lasting effect. Within two weeks of wearing a neuromuscular splint, she was reported that all the pain and discomfort disappeared.
Ear pain gone
Mark, 57, was referred by his ENT (ear, nose and throat) doctor for evaluation and treatment with complaints of ear pain, dizziness and TMJ pain of many years' duration. One week after the insertion of a neuromuscular occlusion orthosis (splint), he reported, "I was feeling strange without my ear pain." By the third week, he jokingly said, "It's a pain not to have pain! I have nothing to complain about."
A minor accident with unexpected consequences
Susan was a 7-year-old girl who was suffering from severe ear pain for over a year. Her mother said it began at the time her daughter screamed when her foot got stuck while riding an escalator. She had been taken to the pediatrician and several ear specialists, all of whom found nothing wrong with her ears and were not able to relieve her ongoing pain. The traumatic experience of the accident, plus the physical strain to her jaw joints and muscles, caused the ear pain. An ENT specialist referred Susan to Dr. Cooper for TMJ / TMDtreatment. Her ear pain disappeared one week after wearing a neuromuscular occlusion appliance, which she discontinued using after a few months.
Missing teeth = TMD
Nancy, 55, had three teeth removed on the right side of her mouth and was waiting for healing before having the teeth replaced by her dentist. She was chewing only on the opposite side of her mouth to avoid using the extraction side. When Nancy developed facial and head pain, she consulted her primary care physician who referred her to an ENT specialist and a neurologist, all of whom found nothing wrong. She was then referred for treatment of TMD. After three TENS therapy visits, she was feeling fine and was soon ready for the restorative dental treatment.
Facial pain from TMD
Scott, 25, was referred by his physiatrist with symptoms of facial pain, general discomfort in his mouth, jaw joint pain, headaches and stiffness in his neck. He found it difficult to open his mouth fully. He commented that his back teeth didn't fit together in a stable occlusion (bite). Scott was treated initially with a neuromuscular appliance and when his symptoms resolved, his rear teeth were restored with onlays (partial-covering, tooth-colored additions) to maintain the beneficial change in his occlusion that was created with the orthosis.
Headache and pain have physical cause
Heather, 35, thought her regular headaches, stiffness in her neck and light-headedness were due to stress. Upon exam, we found that she was pushing her front teeth forward causing obvious spaces between them. She was unable to open her mouth comfortably or smile upon awakening because her facial muscles felt tight. After wearing a neuromuscular splint, her symptoms disappeared. She eventually had her teeth crowned in that same neuromuscular occlusal position, and has been symptom-free for almost twenty years.
No more migraines
Patti, a 34-year-old teacher, researched on the internet to find care for a TMJ / TMD problem. She had migraine-type headaches, jaw-joint cracking and grating, as well as neck pain. She had previously consulted with an ENT specialist and a neurologist, who could find no problem. The neurologist attributed the problem to TMJ / TMD and referred her to Dr. Cooper. Now, wearing a neuromuscular appliance, Patti has experienced significant relief.
Pain killers not the answer
Sally, a 46-year-old executive, suffered from severe pain in the right jaw near her ear, facial pain and clicking, neck pain, headaches, limited opening, an inability to chew hard food and difficulty in prolonged speech. Prior to undergoing this TMJ / TMD treatment she had several root canals, which did not eliminate her pain, and she was given "pain killers." She concluded that there were "still no answers as to the cause of the pain." After treatment with a neuromuscular appliance, and ultimately with a long-term appliance to maintain the healthy bite, she is finally pain-free.
Root canals don't solve TMJ pain
Suffering from facial pain and clenching of his teeth, 65-year-old Danny underwent root-canal therapy on several teeth and extraction of several posterior teeth. A partial denture was fabricated to replace two missing teeth on each side. After many adjustments, he was unable to wear the partial and continued to suffer from facial and TMJ pain. With computerized testing and an orthotic, symptoms were relieved. A new partial was fabricated in the new occlusion position, and he has remained symptom free.
Tinnitus and headache relief
Steven, 35, suffered from tinnitus and almost daily headaches. Prior to coming for treatment he had visited two ENT doctors, who recommended that he learn to live with the tinnitus since there is no known cure at that time. After undergoing computerized testing and wearing a neuromuscular orthotic, his headaches and the volume of his tinnitus was significantly reduced.
Conservative treatment often best solution for TMD
Paul, a 20-year-old college student, was experiencing jaw stiffness, locking and clicking noises in the joint. After consulting with an oral surgeon, he was informed that "the situation was so bad that any sort of dental appliance would have minimal chances for success." He was advised that joint surgery should be preformed, but it too could not guarantee relief. Paul continued to seek an effective, conservative treatment. Indeed, the use of a neuromuscular orthotic appliance resulted in complete relief of all of his symptoms. Following two years of splint usage, he discontinued wearing the appliance and has been symptom-free since 1989.
Combined treatments get results
Steve, 40, had headaches, facial and jaw pain and muffled ears, as well as severe pains in the back of his neck and numbness in his fingers. He was treated with a neuromuscular oral appliance, which, combined with physical therapy, brought significant improvement.
Old dentures create problems
Ruth, 70, wore complete dentures, which were very old with severely worn teeth. The height of her bite had become collapsed, evident in her facial appearance. She had frequent severe headaches, which she called "migraine-like." In addition, she experienced dizziness. New dentures were made for her with a neuromuscular occlusion to improve her jaw function and bite, and relieve her headaches. The headaches were resolved and her dentures gave her good chewing function, comfort and improved facial appearance.
TMJ / TMD can make air travel difficult
A 50-year-old business executive, Stewart, had to travel by plane frequently. Each time he flew he experienced severe ear pain accompanied by ear muffling. It often took hours or days after a flight to clear his ears and obtain pain relief. He often had to adjust his travel plans to be certain that he would be flying on large-body, well-pressurized aircraft. After being fitted with a neuromuscular orthotic, his pain subsided significantly.
ABOUT THESE PATIENTS
All of these people, male and female ages 7 to 70, suffered from temporomandibular disorders (TMD). All of these people had a condition, which involved some dysfunction in the jaw functional system involving the jaw joints (TMJ), the nerves/muscles associated with jaw function and the way in which the teeth fit together. All of these people were helped by a conservative treatment that improved the working interrelationship among all of these systems. Their treatment involved relaxing their facial muscles and changing their dental occlusion, thereby eliminating a cause of their illness, rather than only treating the symptoms.
Note: People with the various symptoms similar to those described above may not have a temporomandibular disorder or may have TMJ / TMD plus other illnesses. Proper evaluation is necessary to determine whether TMJ / TMD can be a possible cause. While these are the stories of many of patients who were treated successfully, it does not imply that all patients with TMJ / TMD experience resolution of their problems through the treatment described here.