Why I created TMD Collective
Well, my dental story started back when I was 12.
It was the 80s (hello hot rollers and permed hair!) and my dad was the only dentist in a small rural town in Eastern WA. After consulting with the orthodontist in his local study club, it was determined that my mandible (lower jaw) needed to “catch up” in skeletal growth with my maxilla (upper jaw), and the way to accomplish that was to put me in headgear to “shove” my maxilla back and slow down the normal growth.
Pictured below is me rocking my amazing new fashion accessory, dental headgear:
Four years of braces later, my smile and occlusion (bite) were deemed “perfect.”
Fast forward to today, and dentists have actually discontinued this technique entirely after learning that orthodontic treatment such as cervical pull headgear (my assigned fashion accessory) or extracting four premolar teeth to forcibly create the “perfect bite” (my other treatment avenue) are both extremely harmful and restrictive to an individual’s airway and skeletal growth.
I wish I could say that my headgear perfect bite was my final jaw joint experience, but truthfully that was just the beginning.
After getting into not one, not two, but THREE motor vehicle accidents (the third one sending me spinning across five lanes of traffic at 70mph into a tractor-trailer after being side swiped) I began grinding my teeth. Before I knew it, my dad had me back in a dental appliance again while I slept, and the clicking, popping, and rightward drift of my bite began shortly after.
So much for the perfect bite, huh?
An exciting discovery!
Years later, I was working as a physical therapist and did some treatment on my neck but never addressed my Temporomandibular joints.
Then after dental school, while doing some continuing education, I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Jim McKee and hearing him and Dr. Mark Piper lecture about Joint Based Occlusion concepts. I was riveted by the information they presented and at last had discovered concepts that were aligned with an orthopedic view of the Temporomandibular joints.
So, I shadowed Dr McKee at his Chicago office and had my first Cone beam CT scan performed – which revealed skeletal changes and a drifting bite. We were able to manage my symptoms with a flat plane appliance and occasional Botox to my Masseter muscles (chewing muscles).
Finally, answers! And some sort of relief.
A pattern arises
Sadly, in 2016 after a roller coaster ride with my kiddos at Disneyland, I developed severe cervical radiculopathy and radiating pain in my right scapula (shoulder blade).
This time, I was able to manage the symptoms with physical therapy and a steroid injection in my cervical spine.
And so, a pattern begins arising…
You can see a trend where microtrauma became macrotrauma and in my case that led to 1) structurally altered joints, and 2) changes in how my teeth fit together.
This pattern from my very own life, and the lessons learned through my own treatment journey are the very foundation of how and why TMD Collective was born.
Because after seeing the impact that Dr. Piper’s Joint Based Occlusion (JBO) concepts combined with my knowledge of physical therapy had on my own treatment plan, everything changed.
Combining General Dentistry with Physical Therapy
In the last five years I have focused my general dentistry practice specifically on helping people with TMD and airway issues, using the principles of Dr Piper’s JBO combined with my knowledge of physical therapy.
As I have grown and evolved in my profession I firmly believe without proper imaging of the Temporomandibular joints which includes CBCT for the hard (bony) tissue and MRI to visualize the soft tissue we can’t adequately treat our patients that have TMD, cervical spine, airway, sleep and complex Orofacial pain.
Too many patients have gone through different types of dental therapy including orthodontia, appliance therapy, equilibration, orthognathic surgery without proper imaging so they have a clear diagnostic picture of their anatomy.
As health care professionals we need to do better.
The more we image, the more we will recognize joint problems at an earlier age so we can prevent the devastating cascade of events that lead individuals down a pathway of limited jaw mobility, clicking and popping, pain, headaches and CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome).
Our patients are suffering, and it’s our job to recognize the issues sooner to expedite their relief.
My passion is to present the JBO concepts to both health care professionals (dentists, physical therapists, ENTs, sleep MDs, etc.) and work together as a multidisciplinary team to help out patients – while also educating the general public who may be searching for answers to their TMD problems.
Because it’s my steadfast belief that this elegant method of combining General Dentistry with Physical Therapy techniques is the path to relief for so many patients – ones who are currently suffering, searching for answers.
Prevention is my passion.
Education is my passion.
I want to create a community – a collective – where you can find answers, experts, support, and empathy for your TMD questions and struggles.
And so, TMD Collective was born
I hope you follow along and find not only the answers you’re looking for through helpful information, resources, and recommendations – but also the empathy and support you oh-so-deserve.
I hear you, and I believe you.
Welcome, friend. I’m here to help.