I first met Dr. Daryl Beach, an American dentist living in Japan, in 1969 during the Chicago Midwinter Dental Meeting. He was exhibiting a level support for dental patients that did not tilt their torsos. When I asked Dr. Beach why his dental bed wasn’t like a dental chair, he responded, “It doesn’t need to be like a dental chair.” I shook his hand and went on thinking that I couldn’t work with something that didn’t tilt. However, Dr. Beach seemed so confident and unassailable by the criticism of his new invention-a dental patient support that was more like a table-that I never forgot about this initial meeting.
Fast forward fifteen years…I was looking for a way out of a five year long experience with persistent and severe back pain that had significantly hindered my enjoyment of my dental practice and my life in general. It was a fortuitous meeting with Dr. Janet Travell, President John F. Kennedy’s personal physician, member of the White House cabinet, and co-author of Trigger Point Manual I and Trigger Point Manual II, that forever changed the way I would approach procedures for dental care. Dr. Travell had been asked to speak to a study club of orthodontists in Wichita, Kansas. A friend had invited me to attend a seminar she was giving as he knew that I had back problems and probably would appreciate what Dr. Travell would have to say. During the session, Dr. Travell had me standing and then sitting in front of the group while she pointed out how my skeletal shape and alignment contributed to my pain syndrome. She told me that I had two choices: one, to give up the practice of dentistry or, two, to find a way to work that did not include bending and twisting my spine away from my dominant arm. When I asked her how I could do this, she said, “I don’t know, but if you find a way you should let others know.” Ultimately, it was her advice that got me on the right track to practicing in a way that eliminated my chronic pain which had been aggravated for years by how I practiced dentistry.
The University of Maryland collaborated with representatives of the World Health Organization, Dr. Beach, and the Morita Corporation a year prior to the meeting I had with Dr. Travell to begin sponsoring a series of education courses on “Home Position Dentistry.” I saw a photo about this program that showed dentists being trained on a simulator that ensured that they were working in an upright position. The caption under the picture said “University of Maryland Dental School teaches dentist a new way to work.” Thinking that this might be the answer to the challenge that Dr. Travell had posed, I flew to Baltimore with my two dental assistants to learn more. It was there that I made the decision to switch the way I was physically approaching dental care procedures and how I worked with dental instruments. I purchased two of the ‘level’ tables at the workshop. Three months after they were installed, my back pain went away and has never returned. And, these two dental units are still operating today–twenty-seven years later–in my general practice. This experience has led me to establish this website for those who would appreciate a comprehensive guide for educational programs, study groups, and access to practice system components that will elevate the practice of dentistry to a safer and more enjoyable level. Neither Dr. Beach nor the Morita Corporation have any financial or governing interest in designbyfeel.