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 over a year. That was over thirty 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 dentists around the world whom I have taught -- and many have their own positive stories to tell.