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Rejuvenating Patients and Practices – The Texas Center for Occlusal Studies

by Tina Cauller

The founders of The Texas Center for Occlusal Studies (from left): Dr. Hal Stewart, Daniel O’Rourke,CDT and Dr. Craig Herre with Kathy Stewart, Executive Director.

by Tina Cauller

Tooth decay and periodontal disease have long been considered the primary diseases that dentists treat. With our aging population and people keeping their teeth for their lifetime, a new disease has emerged. Occlusal disease, or malocclusion, is extremely common in American society. Occlusal disease manifests itself in many ways including, but not limited to, the following:
• Tooth wear (attrition)
• Tooth fracture
• Gum recession
• Bone loss
• Myofascial pain
• TMJ pain and dysfunction

As Dr. Hal Stewart points out, “While this disease is common and affects the majority of people, there are very few dentists who are equipped with the knowledge to effectively and predictably treat it. The art and science of addressing the entire chewing system – the TMJ, the muscles, nerves, occlusion, and teeth – is not really taught at the major postgraduate teaching institutes or in dental school. Some of the common ways to ‘treat’ occlusal disease are all symptom relief related. Night guards protect the teeth only at night when the patient is sleeping. Facial massage or Botox just relaxes the muscles temporarily. Medications just alleviate symptoms for a short time.”

The Texas Center for Occlusal Studies in Flower Mound, Texas was co-founded by Dr. Hal Stewart, Dr. Craig Herre and
Daniel O’Rourke, CDT. The Texas Center is a state-of-the-art teaching center for extended dental education, dedicated to educating the dentist and the dental lab technician on how to accurately and predictably diagnose and treat occlusal disease in a minimally invasive manner.

There is an ever-increasing demand by patients for this type of treatment. The founders of the Texas Center recognized this and dedicated themselves to teaching philosophy and treatment techniques that they themselves had been using for years to effectively treat this untapped market.

Most dentists spend the majority of their careers repairing broken and decayed teeth. Rejuvenation dentistry is much more than repairing teeth. As Dr. Craig Herre explains, “Nature is wonderfully complex. Truly treating the whole patient requires the dentist and technician to consider the delicate balance of biological and physiological systems that make us humans rather than machines. Once one begins to address dental health from the perspective of restoring biological balance, it opens up options for treating patients with conservative measures that are more effective and more affordable than a conventional restorative approach.”

Rejuvenation Dentistry

In nature, when any one component of a system is compromised, a gradual decline toward disorder is initiated. In fact, it is the fundamental acknowledgement of biologic systems that distinguishes reactive dentistry from restorative dentistry. To achieve a meaningful understanding of how something works and what makes it successful, it’s not enough to view the anatomy as a collection of individual components. Examining healthy oral function as a system – a series of interacting, interrelated, and interdependent elements – gives the dentist a basis for dentistry that goes beyond repairing the symptoms of failure to address the root cause for the failure.

The co-founders of The Texas Center call this approach ‘rejuvenation dentistry’ because it returns the patient to the biological norm that existed before the underlying cause for failure developed. The Texas Center for Occlusal Studies offers a program of instruction to dentists, dental technicians, and other dental professionals that focuses on the benefits of rejuvenation dentistry. “The cornerstone of restoring biological balance to the chewing system is a solid, harmonious occlusion,” notes Daniel O’Rourke, CDT. “By teaching treatments that address the four key elements of proper occlusion – position of the temporomandibular joint, the form of the bite, the form of the teeth, and the airway – we can get the patient out of pain, improve aesthetics, and restore proper function so that the system does not fall into a downward spiral of deterioration. We often accomplish this utilizing minimally invasive restorative techniques.”

Rejuvenation dentistry is based on the work of Dr. Bob Lee, who began looking at the function of healthy mouths as a way of more thoroughly understanding the causative foundations of oral pathology. “When the Secret Service trains employees to identify counterfeit bills, they start by asking students to carefully study authentic currency,” notes Dr. Stewart. “In the same vein, by understanding healthy biologic systems functioning at an optimum level, like the bodies of Olympic athletes, we can cultivate a more complete understanding of function than by limiting our explorations to pathology alone.”

Millions of Americans suffer from TM dysfunction and even more from myofascial pain dysfunction. TMJ and myofascial pain dysfunction affect both men and women with a greater prevalence among women. Despite the prevalence of this condition, there is no formal residency training in TMJ disease for dentists. Dr. Stewart, Dr. Herre, and Daniel O’Rourke, CDT co-founded the Texas Center for Occlusal Studies to address this gap in dental training. In July 2014, they launched a residency program to teach dentists techniques to address their patients’ problems from a perspective of understanding exactly how the mouth and jaw function. Attendees learn techniques to stabilize the condyle, correct form and occlusion, and restore proper vertical dimension of the teeth with minimally invasive techniques using very conservative measures.

The principles and techniques of rejuvenation dentistry also help dentists provide relief for habitual snorers, who represent 60 percent of men and 40 percent of women over the age of 40. “The airway is an integral component of the oral system,” Dr. Herre points out. “By returning proper vertical dimension, the airway is often opened up enough to improve or eliminate snoring.”

Daniel O’Rourke, CDT, who serves as co-director of the residency program at The Texas Center for Occlusal Studies, leads the clinical laboratory training and teaches techniques in rejuvenation dentistry to attending technicians. “Because our program is based on a model of health, it completely alters the existing paradigm.”

Dr. Stewart adds, “In this program, attendees learn what optimal form and function look like. Since a stable condyle is the root of balanced, harmonious function, they learn how to use a Condylar Centering Orthotic to stabilize the condyle through highly precise and refined manipulation, and how to verify that ideal stabilization has been achieved.”

Dr. Herre emphasizes the importance of the residency in building relationships and synergy between technicians and dentists. “We encourage doctors to bring their technicians to the program. Having a team who fully understands the goals of rejuvenation dentistry is invaluable and really maximizes the payoff of this important training program.”The Texas Center for Occlusal Studies is a state-of-the-art teaching center for extended dental education, dedicated to educating the dentist and the dental lab technician on how to accurately and predictably diagnose and treat occlusal disease in a minimally invasive manner.

“You hope what you do will have a big impact, but you never know. I knew my patient would be better but her results exceeded my expectations. It wasn’t just rejuvenating her mouth it rejuvenated her whole attitude and life experience.”
– Dr. Glenn DiBartolomeo, Almonte Springs, FL

“I examined OBI but even with my own family I couldn’t see restoring somebody’s mouth in full porcelains. I was looking for a minimally invasive technique to solve jaw pain problems, and save the teeth. The Texas Center provided that solution with rejuvenation dentistry.”
– Dr. Mary Isaacs, Winter Springs, FL

“My patient had run dozens and dozens of tests over the years with no success. She came in for her regular hygienist appointment when I sleuthed out an occlusal problem. Two weeks into treatment and her headaches were gone! Her pain gone and she was able to play the cello pain free for the first time in years!”
– Dr. Julie Babcock, Overland Park, KS

O’Rourke explains, “During the Texas Center’s one year residency each doctor will diagnose, restore, and present one or two patient cases under the mentorship of our instructors. Residents will learn exponentially as they observe the diagnosis and restoration of 10-20 peer cases. The course consists of six sessions every other month over the course of 12 months. Our intimate learning environment (class size averages 10-12 students) fosters one-on-one interaction between residents and instructors. A unique distinction of the TXCOS program versus other programs is that each doctor personally rejuvenates one or two full cases during the course and presents, to the other residents in the course, each case as it progresses.”

Rejuvenating Dental Practices

The Center’s residency program is breathing new life into dentists and their practices. Dr. Stewart explains, “Many of the dentists who have come to the residency program have been through other training programs, but tell us that they are still looking for that ‘missing piece’ that will allow them to practice dentistry the way they’ve always imagined. Some of them are seeking a way to diversify treatment and find renewed enjoyment and satisfaction in their profession. Many of them tell us that they are looking for a way to free their practices from the insurance stranglehold. While an in-depth residency program is not for everyone, the unique instructional focus provides a path to life-changing dentistry for patients, dentists and staff. The Texas Center’s unique approach to dentistry helps doctors become ‘physicians of the mouth’.”

Dr. Herre makes this observation: “The residency program requires a financial investment in the future and a substantial commitment of time, but for the right person, it opens a new world. It enables them to change their patients’ lives in a way never before possible. It enables them to access a new income stream with their existing patients and recession-proof an established practice. The program is geared towards dentists who want to take a big step, slow down and change the way they practice dentistry day to day.”

The Texas Center for Occlusal Studies is located at 6011 Morriss Road in Flower Mound.

2017 One Year Occlusion Residency

*This training is divided into 6 sessions spread over a one-year period.

January 5-7    Session 1 (3 days/Th-Sat)
Mar 2-4    Session 2 (3 days/Th-Sat)
May 5-6    Session 3 (2 days/Fri-Sat)
July 7-8    Session 4 (2 days/Fri-Sat)
Sept 8-9    Session 5 (2 days/Fri-Sat)
Nov 3-4    Session 6 (2 days/Fri-Sat)
Final Case Presentation & Graduation
Small Class Sizes – Limited Space Available – Register Today!
Visit our website txcos.com for more information or contact Kathy Stewart, Executive Director at kathy@txcos.com or (855) 539-4040.

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