Physical Therapy and Dentistry

On the evening of November 9th, 2021, I had the pleasure of presenting on the topic of Physical Therapy and Dentistry, Perfect Combination to Evaluate and Treat Temporomandibular Disorders, Orofacial Pain, and Craniofacial Pain.

Dr. Monica Hebl, who is the owner of Burleigh Dental in Wauwatosa, WI, was kind enough to invite me to lecture at the Milwaukee Odontological Academy, which is the oldest Dental Study Club in Wisconsin. There were approximately 40 Dentists present, along with Penelope Van Osten and Jeff Verhagen, 2 of Freedom’s many stellar and experienced TMD Physical Therapy Specialists. The goal of the presentation was to increase the awareness of Physical Therapy in the Treatment of Temporomandibular Disorders and that more collaboration between Dentists and PTs is necessary for the management of TMD pain, craniofacial pain, orofacial pain so as to improve the treatment outcomes of this patient population.

One of the primary research articles I presented was by Gadotti, Inae & Hulse, Corey & Vlassov, Julia & Sanders, Derek & Biasotto-Gonzalez, Daniela. (2018). Dentists’ Awareness of Physical Therapy in the Treatment of Temporomandibular Disorders: A Preliminary Study. Pain Research and Management. 2018. 1-8.

Reasons Dentists stated for not being likely to refer to PT are as follows:

  • Do not know what the process is to refer
  • None have offered services
  • Too specific of treatment for PT to be helpful
  • Insurance issues
  • Not allowed to refer
  • PT treatment only helps temporarily
  • Do not know where to refer in my area


So many of these above issues were presented and discussed and clarified. In addition, there needs to be more cross-training and presentations done at Dental Schools as to what Physical Therapists can offer for TMD and orofacial pain and vice versa, at PT Schools presentations, need to be performed so PTs can learn the value in collaborating with Dentists and their unique talents.

Collaboration is the key to TMD

I have the good fortune of presenting a TMD lecture at Marquette University and Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science to their PT Students each year and sharing my passion for treating TMD and the necessary collaboration with many other healthcare specialists but in particular the Dental profession. I also educate and empower this thinking each and every time I present my 2-day TMD and Orofacial Pain course around the US and abroad.

As I was researching for additional supportive research articles not many are found, I can provide a list upon request, but I was most excited to see just about 40 Years ago my mentor and friend, Dr. Mariano Rocabado, from Santiago, Chile first presented this topic in the Journal of Craniomandibular Practice back in 1982, Rocabado M, Johnston BE Jr, Blakney MG. Physical therapy and dentistry: an overview. J Craniomandibular Pract. 1982 Dec-1983 Feb;1(1):46-9.

As we can see this concept of PT and Dentistry is taking a long time to development, but don’t all great things take time??

The interrelationship between Dentistry and Physical Therapy in the treatment of temporomandibular disorders works, and it works well. Many of us in this niche recognize this every day we treat patients. I hope we can continue to foster this relationship between PT and Dentistry as Dr. Ed Wright and Sarah North PT articulated in their article Management and Treatment of Temporomandibular Disorders: A Clinical Perspective Edward F. Wright, DDS, Sarah l. North, PT, MPT; The Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy, Volume 17, Number 4. pg. 247-254.

Let’s not take another 40 years please, I will be 95 years old, hope I live that long, but not sure I can wait that long!!

Here’s to collaboration for the health of our TMD Patients.

Michael Karegeannes
Latest posts by Michael Karegeannes (see all)