Beginning in 1980, Dr. Samuel Higdon established a unique dental practice devoted entirely to the management of pain and other problems related to the jaw system. He was the first dentist in the State of Oregon to establish a full-time practice in this special area of care. He remains the only dentist in Oregon with such a practice and has devoted over 30 years of his professional career to this limited practice. He has successfully treated many thousands of patients with such problems.
Dr. Higdon is a graduate of The University of Missouri, School of Dentistry in Kansas City, Missouri. He began his dental career in 1964 in the United States Air Force, stationed in Madrid, Spain. From 1967 to 1979, Dr. Higdon maintained a general dental practice in Lake Oswego, Oregon
Dr. Higdon has taken hundreds of hours of continuing dental education related to the function of the jaw and how to make the fit of the bite harmonious with the function of the jaw joints and jaw muscles. This intensive study led to an interest in the special problems of the jaw joints and muscles referred to as temporomandibular disorders, or more commonly referred to as “TMJ”.
In 1979, a local Pain Center was developing a medical program for people with chronic headaches. They were aware that many headaches arise out of problems with the jaw and asked Dr. Higdon to work with them in their facility. In 1980, Dr. Higdon sold his general dental practice and began to devote full time to the management of jaw-related problems, including both pain and problems involving the bite (dental occlusion).
The jaw system in the most complex and elegant joint system in the human body. Dentists and other health care professionals, in their professional education, receive very little training about the normal and abnormal function of this complex and elegant joint system. For well over 30 years Dr. Higdon has devoted his practice to the conservative (non-surgical) management of problems related to the temporomandibular joints and the associated muscles and other structures of the jaw system. When needed, he works closely with the patient’s own general dentist and assumes responsibility to coordinate and integrate care when other health care professionals may need to be involved in the often-complex management of all aspects of the patient’s problem.
Dr. Higdon is the author and illustrator of a patient education guide regarding the normal and abnormal anatomy of the temporomandibular joints. This guide, which can be seen at TMJAnatomy.com, has been widely accepted and used by dentists in this country and around the world. He is also the co-author of an educational website (DrawbridgeDDS.com) for both dentists and patients. He is frequently asked to teach continuing education classes to other dentists regarding the unique requirements of this area of dental responsibility.
There has historically been a great deal of confusion regarding how “TMJ” problems should be treated. Many patients who have sought help have heard a different story from virtually everyone they have consulted. In many cases this confusion is the result of how little is taught to dentists in their professional education. Very few in the health care community have been in a position to provide more than limited treatment of patients with pain and other problems of the head, face, and jaw. Dr. Higdon’s dental career has been primarily focused on this complex and often misunderstood area of health care. His experience in this field, involving the successful treatment of thousands of patients, is equaled by very few practitioners anywhere in this country or elsewhere. His thorough and comprehensive approach assures a standard of care that is unmatched.