ExploreHolistic Practitioner Spotlight with Jeffrey L. Brown, DDS, Fellow of the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain
We are speaking with Dr. Jeffrey Brown, DDS from Falls Church, Virginia, who specializes in treating Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD), Sleep Apnea and Craniofacial pain – all without drugs.
Tell Us a Story About a Patient with Migraine Headaches and How You Helped
Susan suffered with severe migraine headaches for many years and often had to spend the day in bed due to the pain. She lived on pain killers and took injections monthly anticipating the pain that would inevitably occur each month.
When I met Susan, I discovered that the articular discs (the cartilage between the temporo-mandibular jaw joints (TMJ) and the skull were both displaced. This caused a ‘pinching’ effect on the nerves in her skull. Making her condition even worse, were severe distortions of her cranial bones (skull bones) confirmed by an MRI and a Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) X-ray.
Rather than treat the symptoms of her debilitating migraine headaches, we always try to locate the source of the problem. In Susan’s case, the reason for the original displacement of the discs and the distortion of the cranial bones was likely due to trauma from birth. Studies have shown that trauma from difficult births is responsible for almost 95% of facial distortions. This then sets in motion the problems that so many of the patients I treat experience. Most have been to multiple doctors for years on end and have spent every last cent they have, never being diagnosed with slipped discs and the bony distortions.
Restoring Balance and Alignment
To relieve Susan’s headache pain, the plan was to have her wear several custom appliances. One would decompress the jaw joints and take the pressure off the discs; the other appliance was designed to level and re-align the bones inside her skull. After about a year of treatment we re-assessed her condition and discovered that not only were the discs in proper position, but the cranial bones had leveled out nicely as well.
To complete Susan’s case, we needed her own teeth to be able to properly support the jaw joints, taking the pressure off the discs. Using a high tech orthodontic approach, we were able to literally grow her teeth taller and maintain their position with retainers. Her neurologist who has been treating Susan for migraine headaches was so pleased with her progress that called me to say he was unaware of her condition and from here on would look into the discs and distortions.
The case from beginning to end took about 3 1/2 years, which is typical. Not a quick fix, but a lasting result. Susan has been pain free and off all medication for the past several years and simply comes to see me yearly to check her retainers. Susan appreciates being free of migraine headaches and medications and admits that the four hours spent driving to my office and four hours home was worth every second of her time. She told me that I was able to give her back her life
Why and When Did You Choose the Holistic Path?
I actually would not say my path is holistic, although I do look at the whole person and “drill down” into their problems before making any diagnosis or comments. While most dentists approach their patient from a side position on their initial exam, I want to look at my patients face to face and talk with them before I make an evaluation of damaged discs, damaged joints, and distorted cranial bones. One of my goals is to phase out their dependence on pain killers and enjoy a life without headaches or facial pain.
What Lessons Have Your Work and Personal Experiences Taught You?
I’ve learned that I must take the time to listen to the patient and understand the pain they are experiencing before I make any assumption about their condition. I will oftentimes ask a patient to allow me to take an xray and a TMJ MRI and then give me the time I need to seriously think about their case before making any recommendations. This is why I am often in the office on the weekends. I put on a pot of coffee and take my time reviewing the various views on the CBCT x-rays so I can understand what is going on with that patient. As well, the MRI takes me a lot of time to properly evaluate since I have a different perspective and am looking at things differently than the radiologist might.
What Would You Like Your Patients to Know About Your Services that They May Not be Aware of?
If you are experiencing popping and/or clicking of the jaw joints, this is a problem that needs to be dealt with. The longer you delay, the harder it is to fix and the more expensive that problem becomes. By dealing with displaced discs in the jaw joints and distorted cranial bones at an early age, we can oftentimes avoid head and neck pain, along with sleep-disordered breathing.
I was a graduate of Bowdoin College prior to attending Georgetown Dental School. I am originally from Maine and grew up there as a child. These days I live in Fairfax, Virginia, about 2 miles from my office so I will oftentimes walk home when the snow is flying as it reminds of growing up in snow country as a kid. I attend many classes each year, but not in dentistry! My continuing education is in physical therapy and osteopathy mostly. I am a member of the ALF Academy- an organization dedicated to helping people feel better and use these very special appliances (the ALF) to help chronic pain cases and actually cure sleep apnea.
Jeffrey L. Brown, DDS
Sleep & TMJ Therapy
2841 Hartland Rd. Suite 301
Falls Church, VA 22043
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