Originally published in the LVI Visions Magazine, Spring 2016
3 min read
I would like to share one of my patient’s journeys and how my team and I brought change in this man’s life with a smile. I would also like to share how this change goes beyond helping just this one patient.
New Life, New Smile can mean something different, depending on whom you are speaking. I am fortunate to have the training and tools available to help my patients achieve a new life.
I first met Dave in August of 2014. When he came for his new patient appointment, he was a broken man. His TMJ symptoms included jaw popping, debilitating headaches, and extreme dizziness. These kept him from completing simple daily tasks. Dave kept working, despite these painful symptoms. He also took medications to help relax his muscles, but these did not end his TMJ symptoms. In fact, most of the time the medications made him feel more dizzy, foggy, and unable to concentrate.
Dave searched far and wide in our town for answers. He even sought care from a well-known expert on TMJ disorders that has a satellite office here. After several months with no resolution of TMJ symptoms, Dave sought a better answer. He knew someone had to provide more than just a splint, which is all the other expert had done for him. He and his wife spent hours of research on the internet. This led them to discover Neuromuscular Dentistry and our dental office in Springfield.
Upon my initial examination, I could see that I could help Dave end his pain. He displayed all the classic signs and symptoms of TMJ disorder. He had many posterior restorations, ground down and cracking teeth, many muscle trigger points. I talked about what our office could provide through a physiologic approach. He signed up for Phase I therapy immediately. He was especially intrigued by the fact that our fixed orthotic is worn 24 hours a day. This made more sense to Dave. Other TMJ providers started with splint therapy, then dictated that splint usage taper off. Splints provided some resolution of symptoms, but every time his TMJ symptoms would return. It made sense to Dave that we would find a balanced, physiologic relationship of his lower jaw with his top jaw. Then treat to this position, but only after achieving resolution of his TMJ symptoms. Dave and I set goals to end his jaw popping, cut his headaches and dizziness, and get off the medication!
During the Phase I process, I was able to spend a lot of time getting to know my patient better. Dave, along with his brothers, is a co-founder and spokesperson of Convoy of Hope. Convoy of Hope is a faith-based, non-profit organization based in Springfield, MO. Their non-profit has helped more than 70 million people throughout the world. They share and distribute food, water, emergency supplies, agricultural know-how to millions in need. They empower people to live independent lives, free from poverty, disease, and hunger. In major disasters such as Hurricane Katrina or the earthquake in Nepal, they are first to the scene. They also provide ongoing support to impoverished communities across the globe.
Helping Dave not only meant getting him better, it meant getting him back to his calling and work that helps so many individuals and communities in crisis across the globe.
As co-founder, Dave’s role includes speaking, fundraising and managing strategic partnerships around the globe. He is the trumpeter of Convoy’s mission. Without funds and volunteers, the amazing outreach this organization provides cannot happen. When Dave came to our office seeking care, his symptoms limited the ability to work. He could not complete his speaking engagements due to his dizziness and facial pain. Which in turn limited his ability to fundraise.
Paying attention to each step and detail taught to me by LVI instructor Bill Wade was paramount in our success. Dave worked with a specialist during his Phase I therapy to help taper off the medications. He was medication free before the start of his reconstruction.
We inserted a beautiful full mouth of porcelain on Dave in January. Aurum Ceramic provided beautiful porcelain restorations. We created a natural smile design that maintained our bite position. Dave remains pain-free and completely free of the ineffective medications. By helping this one patient, my team and I were also able to indirectly help thousands across the globe.
Dave has returned back to his calling and work of fundraising. He jokes that my team and I were his top fundraisers in 2015! He travels across the globe to rally the masses for his humanitarian efforts to end suffering. He speaks to crowds about his own journey of suffering from TMJ disorder. He talks about the power that Neuromuscular Dentistry had in helping him gain his new life and new smile.