Dr. Balatgek Helps Achieve Better SleepDec 30, 2022 09:31AM ● By Martin Miron
Treatments for temporomandibular (TMJ) and sleep disorders, facial pain, headaches, insomnia and fatigue at the Center for TMJ & Sleep Disorders help patients live a happy, healthier lifestyle. Some solutions may include wearing oral appliances. The practice uses the latest technology, including digital impressions and 3-D X-rays, to ensure the best treatment outcome.
Owner Dr. Tammy Balatgek says, “We use dental treatments such as oral appliances combined with physical medicine tools like cold laser and ultrasound to reposition the lower jaw and tongue to properly align the jaw joint and open up the oral airway. We treat patients with headaches, jaw pain, jaw joint noises, jaw locking, ear pain and tinnitus, clenching and grinding of teeth, snoring and sleep apnea. These treatments can often be life-changing as many patients have suffered for a long time without answers.”
Balatgek is a member of the American Society of Forensic Dentistry, American Academy of Craniofacial Pain, American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, International Association for Orthodontics, American Academy of Sleep Medicine and American Academy of Orofacial Pain. The doctor is also a forensic dentist for Berks County and Philadelphia County, aiding authorities to identify deceased persons through dental records and helping law enforcement with criminal cases where bite marks are involved.
“My pain story began when I had my braces as a teenager,” she shares. “My teeth were very crowded and my lower jaw was trapped behind my crowded upper teeth, causing it to pinch nerves and blood vessels that led to inflammation within the jaw joint. The inflammation then caused headaches and facial pain. Instead of moving my lower jaw forward, my orthodontic treatment involved extracting upper permanent teeth and aligning the teeth, but not the jaw. As time went on, migraine headaches continued two to four times per month, and I was also getting daily tension headaches in which my entire face would hurt. I tried several different pharmaceutical approaches, however the headaches still persisted.”
Balatgek recalls, “After high school, I attended the Unites States Air Force Academy, in Colorado Springs, and then Ohio University as a chemistry major. After having various jobs, I started working for an orthodontist and loved the dental profession. It was then I decided to pursue being a dentist and attended the Ohio State University, in Columbus, and graduated with a doctor of dental surgery degree in 1997.”
About eight years into her dental career, she attended an orthodontic course in which the speaker had talked about migraines and TMJ Syndrome. “When I held my hands in front of my ears and opened and closed my mouth, I heard and felt my jaw clicking and popping. That was a significant turning point in my life. I attended any course that I could to learn about jaw joint disorders so I could get rid of my pain. I was the first patient to be treated by myself and I wore a mouthpiece on my lower teeth. The mouthpiece moved my lower jaw away from the nerves and blood vessels so they were no longer pinched, and my headaches decreased significantly. I stopped taking all medication and was finally alive and able to live my life without debilitating pain,” says Balatgek.
Her thirst for knowledge continued, and the natural progression of learning the anatomy of the jaw joint led to a greater understanding of the airway and sleep disordered breathing, such as snoring and sleep apnea. “I felt a responsibility to share this knowledge by providing these treatments and opened the Center for TMJ & Sleep Disorders in 2005. While maintaining a full-time practice, I also completed a three-year Master of Science program through Tufts University in craniofacial pain.”
The Center for TMJ & Sleep Disorders is located at 2433 Morgantown Rd., in Reading. For appointments and more information, call 610-796-2835 or visit tmjsleepcenter.com/meet-the-doctor.