How to Treat TMD/TMJ by “Organizing a Confusion”

It is no secret that for the past 88 years TMD/TMJ has been a confusion, a conundrum without appropriate description or solution.  Hundreds, if not thousands of so called “scientific” papers and textbooks have been written on the topic, most of which have little to add other than documenting what others have tried to do to treat the confusing set of symptoms which move around the upper body parts with regularity and increasing intensity over time.

Who has been confused?  It was stunning to find out everyone has been confused about TMD/TMJ since Dr, James Costen, a Texas ENT surgeon first described the most common symptoms of TMD and related it to the temporomandibular joint in his paper published in 1936 naming the condition, Costen’s Syndrome.  (A syndrome is a classification for a disease that has many seemingly unrelated symptoms or observations).  Most syndromes, upon scientific study, are found to be genic in origin.  So, for a time, Costen’s Syndrome was considered to be of genetic origin.  With modern genetic technology it has been established that TMD/TMJ is not of genetic origin although it is common for the symptoms to run in families, mother and daughter. Because TMD/TMJ symptoms are often seen in both mother and daughter, the problem is considered familial, but not genetic.  Genetics have no part to play in explaining TMD/TMJ.

The symptoms of TMD/TMJ are so disparate and variable it became obvious to those that were trying to study the problem to look for a common denominator, or one central cause, that explained all the symptoms like DNA and genetics.  But the confusing set of symptoms led everyone on to blind alleys time and time again.

This confusion and conundrum led doctors into a maze of surgical and non- surgical treatments that led no-where.  Doctors just ended up throwing things at the wall to see if they stick. And that is no way to practice the healing arts.

In order to solve a problem successfully, one must start by organizing the study.  To solve a confusion, one must start by looking for a stable datum, or one stable fact which is unchanging and not moving around in a sea of seemingly unrelated facts.  TMD/TMJ certainly qualifies as a sea of seemingly unrelated facts with healthcare providers throwing treatments at the wall to see if they stick.

When I began my independent research into TMD/TMJ 13 years ago, I started by attempting to “organize a confusion”.  I was looking for a “stable datum” which did not change and upon which the problem could eventually be understood and solved.

I started my investigation where any medical investigation should start, with the patients who have the problem.  I had no lack of access to patients with TMD/TMJ having been the primary Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon in Nashville treating TMD/TMJ surgically for 36 years and over 2000 cases.

So, I brought a series of patients with TMD/TMJ in for consultation.  Instead of listening to their symptoms and telling them what kind of surgery I thought was best, I sat down and asked them to tell me everything they could about the problem.  “What made it worse?”  “What does your husband think about the Problem?” “What’s the phase of the moon when it hurts?” “Does the dog bark when it hurts?” “What makes it better?”

Half the patients I interviewed told me if they placed a finger, a pencil eraser, their tongue, or a piece of cloth between their front teeth the symptoms felt better.  That was a stable datum.  That was a fact that was consistent among the patients no matter their symptoms.  That was the key that solved the problem.

I made a device that separated the posterior teeth and only the front teeth touched.  Every patient who used this device according to a simple protocol gained relief from their symptoms over time.  The patients gave me the key and the stable datum which solved the confusion.

With a stable datum in hand the remaining associated facts came into view.  The Urbanek Device and Protocol now has successfully treated over 4,000 patients from Middle Tennessee.  It is now patented with an independent university study from MTSU validating our claims of over 90% success, and a growing number of doctors throughout the United States licensed for its use.

It all started by “Organizing a Confusion” and finding a “Stable Datum”.