So this is kind of a testimonial/update of my case.
I have come back from Las Vegas from my last appointment, this is the first time I have no more appointments scheduled for treatment in the future and when I do go back there are only small bits still to do on my teeth and bite.
I started TMJ treatment back in 2007 by a well known dentist in England. I was with him for 4 years. I had a serious TMJ disorder, Wilkes stage 3 a really bad overbite, collapsed arches, loud clicking in the right TMJ joint, pain, headaches, undeveloped face, slurred my words when I spoke, nervous system issues, breathing problems, very bad posture I can go on and on. So I was given a flat planed splint which relieved alot of the symptoms the only problem was I kept grinding my way through them and in total went through 8 new ones. I did alf work and had ortho which ended up me improving me but then going back to how I was. It was simple now looking back that my occlusion and bite was never in the right place to keep me stable. It was a ongoing battle with the dentist to get things right. I was confussed and felt alone and that I was a nuisance to the dentist as he told me it was all in my head, I was the only one he had like this and the famous line of ‘stop searching for the holy grail!’ I say famous as he used to quote it to other patients of his.
I was not going to give in and was determined to get answers so I searched on facebook and other forums to come accross a guy called Clayton A. Chan Dds in Las Vegas who wrote these really long detailed, logical posts in response to patients questions put to him. He had created a form of dentistry called GNM dentistry (which stands for Gneuromuscular Dentistry) which isn’t the same as NM dentisty which patients get confussed about, everything made sense, I had a complete buzz of excitement as it was so refreshing to hear a TMJ dentist about measuring the jaw position and talking about the different protocals and stages of treatment, talking about micro occlusal adjustments and also taking time out to answer worried patients on here.
I gave up hope with the UK dentist and it then dawned on my that there were no GNM dentists in the UK. So I weighed up my options of whom I could go to see and thought I would not mess about this time and go right to the top and see the guy that teaches all the other guys. At this point in December 2012 it felt like a crazy thing to do to fly 10 hours on a plane to see a dentist and a punt at that. But my health means the most to me, much more than money so I was prepared to risk it.
I arrived in Las Vegas and it was like a breath of fresh air. The dentist took tons and tons of photos, tests, X-rays, Cat scans moulds you name it he did. He blocked out 4 days for me and saw no other patients just me. I was entering into phase 1 of GNM treatment. Phase 1 was all about just getting stable. The dentist put electric pads on my face (tens) and relaxed all the muscles. He then hooked me up to a K7 device which tracked my jaw in this relaxed state so the computer to find the strongest and most natural position for my bite to be. With that data a orthotic was made in the lab by the same dentist. On day 3 I was given it. It was fabricated to have my actual teeth marks on it so it felt like I was biting on my real teeth. It felt stable yet uncomfortable at the same time. I flew back to the UK and actually had to swap it in and out with my old orthotic at first…..I thought oh no its not going to plan. So I persisted and flew back and had it adjusted a few times. I’d say after the 3rd visit back and forwards I was completely stable. The plan at this point was to get a UK dentist to take over from there but I thought about it and realised there was no one that worked to the same level of detail and also if I let them do anything it could wreck what had been done.
So I got back on the plane and rushed onto phase 2 of GNM treatment which I maybe should been so hasty about. In phase 2 I was given a unique alf style device which had loads of coils and springs to activate later down the line. The main focus was on my upper arch, It was expanded to give me more tongue space and we also decided to open up the gaps as I had my premolars pulled out top and bottom (4 teeth in total!) when I was 13. The plan was to put the teeth back and give me as much stability as possible. I asked around and hadn’t heard of any patients doing this before so it felt quite new and experimental.
There was about 2 years of ortho and getting the teeth into position, it was no easy task as the previous dentist has actually made my case worse by pulling the back molars forward creating less occlusion support. In this period my teeth were moving which made my bite more of a moving target and in turn bringing my symptoms back so the dentist kept having to track the jaw on K7 and keep adjusting at the same time to keep it stable again.
There were lots of occlusal adjustment and micro occlusal adjustment. The GNM treatment involves lots of protocols when adjusting the orthotic. Lots of tap tapping on blue/red paper and green wax to take off interferances which can cause neck pain back pain and headaches. I realised how the small high spot on the orthotic can cause any of these symptoms. These rounds of adjustment would go on for hours and hours moving my jaw in every possible direction to get the bite completely comfortable and solid.
Throughout the treatment I was having atlas orthogonist adjustments (AO) at first and then towards the end I switched to Nucca, purely because the AO lady moved out of town. I actually found Nucca to be the best. My posture was just getting better and better I had a few blips along the way were when the bite went off but overall my syptoms were disappearing as the months ticked by.
At the start of this year, my bite was closed down slightly to finish off the case, I transitioned out of the removable orthotic (which to note did not break or crack over 3 years at all) into a fixed orthotic in the mouth. So it was like teeth bonded onto my actual teeth. There was this eureka! moment at this point, at 3 years into treatment my whole body clicked into line, my midlines of the teeth top and bottom now lined up I walk evenly through both feet, the left side of my body woke up and I have a posture I only dreamed of. No pain, no headaches, I still have a slight click on the right side but not as loud as before and it comes on early rather than late which is better. This may go over time, I’m hopeful. In the last appointment just gone I had the premolar teeth on the top put back in and I would now say my bite is almost 99% perfect. The Nucca guy has confirmed I have moved from a class 2 case to class 1. My atlas had 7 degrees of rotation now it has pretty much none. So its crazy I feel the dentist has reversed damage to my body that in life doesn’t normally get reversed.
I know I am very lucky to be in this position now but what it does show is that it is possible to sort a TMJ problem from start to finish and also that the bite controls everything.
I still have a slight breathing/voice issue but nothing like it was compared to before. Clayton Chan has learnt a way to treat TMJ like no other dentist on this planet, he teaches dentists from all over the world to treat patients in the same way that he does at ‘Occlusion Connections’ in Vegas. He doesn’t guess, he measures and finds where your optimal bite is meant to be using modern day technology. He is very caring and gentle in the way he treats you. He takes on alot of emotional baggage a TMJ patient presents and understands the anxiety and stress that goes on. He’s all about the detail and is a perfectionist. The guy is genius and special he should knighted the whole lot. He devotes his whole life to dentistry and I am lucky to find him and be treated by him. I would also now knowing what goes on be very comfortable being treated by any of the other GNM dentist that have done most of the courses on the OC website.
At 34 years of age I find I have been given a new body and mind back I had to stop football and alot of exercise due being injured all the time so I now wonder about what the new possibilities are.
So keep searching for the ‘holy grail’ as it is out there!!!!!
– Clayton A. Chan, D.D.S. – Las Vegas, NV