Culver’s Brady, Birk among select few treating range of TMJ-related illnesses
When Fred Schmidt entered the West Lafayette, Indiana dental office Kingdon “Kib” Brady three years ago, it took three people to help him walk in the door. Afflicted by severe tremors in his arms, legs, and other muscles, Schmidt, retired from Eli Lilly in Indianapolis, had deteriorated steadily over the 14 years since he’d been diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
Schmidt had been given a detailed examination of mouth and jaw by Brady, and was given a brief procedure and fitted with a device in his mouth. He was able to rise from the chair and walk up and down the halls of the office, an event Brady -- and dental hygienist Ruth Birk, a Culver native -- videotaped and display today with obvious happiness. They’re not alone.
“It really is incredible,” says Schmidt of the results of Brady’s ongoing work. “He has given me several different (oral devices), with each one leading to something better.”
These have led to Schmidt’s ability to open his mouth increasing from just 35 mm to 54 mm as of two weeks ago, to his being able to climb stairs with little trouble, and he’s gone from violent tremors nullifying his fine motor skills, to being able to work with ease with his model railroading equipment.
“I have more stamina than I used to,” he adds. “ I play 18 holes of golf virtually five days a week.
“I would be very sad if (Brady) would go away today and not be able to treat me for TMD problems.”
Brady, a familiar face nowadays in the Culver area, grew up the son of an M.D./Pathologist who worked in Demotte, Morocco, Lafayette, Rensellaer, and Monticello Indiana. Hesitant to duplicate the overworked lifestyle of his father, Kib eventually opted to pursue dentistry, though he’d graduated from Purdue with a degree in industrial management and the possibility of a career in baseball.
Brady spent a number of years working in injection moldings, orthopedic cast materials introducing color casts into the market and, later, banking, starting dental school “late in life,” by his own description, launching that pursuit starting in 1987.
He eventually chose the University of Tennessee in Memphis, which possessed a reputation as one of the strongest dental schools in the world, launching into his own dental practice after graduating in 1992. Along the way, he began to learn more of the world of orthodontics, where Brady’s focus increasingly tended towards the temporal mandibular joint, one of the leading causes of relapses in orthodontics patients.
“This opened up a whole new area that wasn’t taught much in dental school,” Brady says.
While TMD(TemporoMandibularJoint Disorder) disorders can obviously lend themselves to problems in the jaw and face areas, perhaps most surprising to many is increasing research indicating a relationship between the joint -- and the jaw and bite in general -- and a variety of broader movement disorders, including Parkinson’s and conditions with similar symptoms.
The key is the blockage of flow of blood to the brain and airways as a result of TMD disorders. As strange as the suggestion might sound that insertion of an oral device can affect immediate and radical change in patients’ inability to walk, for instance, the proof is in the Freddy Schmidts of the world, and countless other patients treated by Brady and other TMD Dentist.
Brady shares a video example, that of a teenaged track runner debilitated by a car accident. Transported to the dentist’s chair of Brendan Stack, DDS, in Vienna, Virginia --10 months after the accident and seeing many prominent specialists -- in a wheelchair, she stands on her own and walks when TMD-Orthodontist Stack inserts a device into her mouth, the first of many such treatments, each with similarly dramatic results.
With such examples in mind, Brady recognized the needed to formalize his orthodontic studies, which he did in 2000. He also became involved in the American Academy of Cranial and Facial Pain, the leading research organization, through the American Dental Association, regarding TMD dysfunction... With other involvement in organizations including International Association for Orthodontics, American Academy of Gnathologic Orthopedics, Cranial Academy, American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
With 800 members worldwide and a tiered credentialing process, members may move to a Fellowed position and eventually the status of Diplomate, which Brady received in 2011 with formal presentation earlier this summer.
The study of TMD disorders remains a relatively small portion of the overall dental world, and Brady and his Academy associates are pressing to increase the awareness and program offerings in dental schools nationwide. In the meantime, most states can count on one hand the number of licensed General Dentists focusing on TMD, like Brady, among their ranks. And while TMD is not a “specialty” in dentistry today, many – like Brady -- feel a need exists for it to be, given the consistent predictable results of treatment outcomes.
“This has been a journey that’s truly unbelievable,” Brady says, noting continuing education to the tune of some 200 hours per year has been a staple of the process for him.
“It’s exciting time to be in dentistry and health care. We are learning that there is a lot of research going on and changing people’s lives,” he adds, “in how we can improve balance, gait, heart disease, posture, airways, sleep, memory, headaches, neck aches, backaches, tremors, seizures, torticollis, tourettes, with potential with genetic disorders like Down’s utilizing knowledge of epigenetics and growth and development. Many in the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain feel so strongly that dentistry has more capabilities non-surgically to do neurology.”
He’s quick to point out the group doesn’t boast it can cure TMD, but it can help manage it and improve the quality of patients’ lives. And of course, not every movement-related problem stems from a TMD. TMD may begin early in life and manifest in symptoms and signs 20 to 30 years later. With potential to treat many more diseases as research presents itself, and as an interdisciplinary approach with other medical professionals co-treating, the potential for even better results may be obtained, Brady adds.
Properly diagnosed, Brady says he’s seen dramatic results in many lives from work in the area of TMD, including a 6th grader in the Lafayette area Brady treated, who had been a straight “F” student. Work to address TMD-related sleep issues led to a remarkable change in his functionality, Brady explains, and by the following summer he’d read more books than any student recorded in Tippecanoe County, and was earning mostly A’s and B’s.
Some athletic trainers on high school, collegiate, and even national levels have recognized the potential of TMD therapies in treating their players, adds Brady.
Brady and Ruth Birk have worked together in the TMD field since 2005, says Birk, who is a certified TMD assistant through the Academy and has 25 years of orthodontics background.
Together they handle the chores of the entire dental office, the only fully-certified TMD office in Indiana.
Prior to his TMD involvement, Brady was looking for a practice and spent some time at a dental office in Culver, where he met Birk. Eventually theirs developed into “more than a working relationship,” he says, and along the way he’s been involved in Culver’s Lions Club -- where Birk’s entire family has taken a leading role for decades -- and enjoyed time with the Birk family and on Lake Maxinkuckee, where he and Ruth spend weekends.
“Culver has a soft spot in my heart,” he notes, “and being a part of the community here has been fun.”
Brady has, in fact, worked with some local residents in the area of TMD treatment, with much success, he says.
And of course there’s Fred Schmidt, who initially connected to Brady by way of Ruth’s late father, Art Birk, who knew Schmidt through the Lions Club and Indiana Eye Bank. Art Birk himself had been an initial skeptic as to how dramatic could be the results of TMD treatment, but he became so insistent Schmidt at least give Brady a try, Schmidt eventually gave in just to appease Birk.
“It took three of us 30 minutes to walk him 30 yards,” says Brady. “He had told his wife (on the way to Brady’s office), ‘We’re on wildest goose chase we’ve ever been on!’
“Within 13 months of treatment starting, he had gone from not being able to eat or dress by himself, to being able to put his model trains on the tracks. His double vision is gone and he can sign his name for the first time in years,” Brady adds.
“I actually sometimes go out of my way to contact (people who may be suffering from TMD-related symptoms) and say, ‘There may be an option here that can improve your health.’ I’m so passionate about what I think we can do to help people.
“It’s not a matter of if medicine and dentistry will change (to adapt TMD awareness), it’s a matter of when.”
That being the case, Kib Brady’s may just be a name Culverites hear more and more about, well outside our borders here.