In the summer of 2010, when I was 49 and a half years old, my life abruptly changed for the worse. I suffered a debilitating event that I had never experienced before. I was at work in my office and began to feel nauseous, dizzy and weak. Thinking at first that I was coming down with a bug of some kind, I tried to endure the symptoms and finish out the day. But within 5 minutes I was reeling. A co-worker walked by my office and saw that something was very wrong. He offered to drive me to a hospital. I stubbornly resisted because I thought it would pass. It didn’t. My co-worker gave me an ultimatum: either I agree to be driven to a hospital or he would call 911. As the seconds were passing, I was slipping deeper and deeper into what I can only describe as being gripped by such nausea, such dizziness, such sensitivity to any motion or light and a type of internal turmoil that could not be compared to anything I had ever experienced. I had no choice but to go to the hospital. As he helped me get into his car, any motion whatsoever caused me to groan. I tried to keep a grip on things but I was no match for the worsening symptoms. As the car traveled down the street, every movement, every turn, every stop, every little hill became an excruciating means of intense discomfort. I vomited and moaned and prayed and did my best to focus on trying to endure the car ride. It was a violent 25 minute ride through hell. My vocabulary falls far short of what would be required to accurately describe that experience.
As the emergency assistants tried to help me exit the car, I continued to vomit even though there was nothing left to vomit. This continued intermittently for several hours. I truly believed that I might not survive. I laid on the gurney in the emergency room in total incapacitation. If I moved my head or opened my eyes the symptoms would intensify immediately. Speaking to the attending doctors was a real challenge. They asked me all sorts of questions in order to determine what was going on and how they could help me. They asked me if I was on drugs. They asked me if I had been drinking. They asked all of the questions that they were supposed to ask. I told them that I have never taken drugs and had not had any alcohol and have never been drunk in my life. They took x-rays, ran tests, asked more questions and waited. About 6 hours after it all began, slowly things finally began to subside. I was still very dizzy, but not incapacitated. I stopped vomiting but felt like it could start again at any time. They gave me anxiety medicine and meclizine (Dramamine) hoping that it would take the edge off of the dizziness. I stayed in the hospital overnight so they could keep an eye on me. They sent me home the next day. I was still dizzy and weak. Since there was no precise diagnosis forthcoming from the doctors, I was left with a big question mark. Usually being self-sufficient and strong, I felt physically vulnerable. I hoped it was going to turn out to be a one-time event. It wasn’t.
Over the next 7 years I had many similar episodes of severe vertigo and sickness. In between episodes, I lived with varying degrees of dizziness constantly. The roaring sound in my left ear fluctuated in intensity, but never disappeared. My left ear felt plugged. During those 7 years, some episodes were as intense as the first, others less intense. Every incident required me to lie down for 2 to 4 hours, motionless, as I waited for the symptoms to subside to the degree that I could function. There was no pattern to the occurrence and onset of the episodes. They happened at home and at work. They could happen at any time of day. I never knew what to expect.
During that time, I visited several medical specialists in the hope that they could help to return me to a normal life. My family doctor thought it may be related to food allergies of some kind. So I went to a specialist for tests to see if food allergies may act as a trigger for my symptoms. The results showed that I have a few minor allergies to some types of food. So I avoided certain foods. It didn’t help.
I also made an appointment with an ENT specialist. I hoped that he could help me with the hearing loss and tinnitus that was constant since onset. I was thoroughly tested and it was determined that there was nothing “mechanically” wrong with my inner ear. All of the little pieces of bone that are essential to the miracle of hearing were present and functioning. He saw the irritation and inflammation in the inner ear and theorized that my 50% hearing loss in my left ear and tinnitus were “electrical” in nature, saying that the nerve that transmits information to the brain was probably being affected by an unknown cause.
Then I was referred to a specialist whose field of study was dedicated to something called Meniere’s disease. I had never heard of it and so I decided to do some research while I was awaiting my appointment. As I read the list of symptoms associated with Meniere’s, it was easy to see that my symptoms were identical. I saw the specialist and he confirmed the diagnosis. He said that certain lifestyle changes could possibly minimize the frequency and duration of episodes, but that they would always return at some point and be unpredictable. He gave me exercises for my inner ear that were designed to help with my lack of balance. He told me to expect eventual complete deafness in my left ear and that many Meniere’s sufferers eventually developed the same symptoms in both ears. He told me that there was no known cause and no known cure for Meniere’s disease. I reluctantly accepted his diagnosis and proceeded to try to get used to the idea that I was going to continue to deteriorate and that my quality of life was going to be greatly impacted for the rest of my days.
Time marched on and I tried to adapt to my limitations. Even though I was being careful and taking all of the precautions that my doctors prescribed, there was no way to control or predict the frequency and severity of the episodes of vertigo and the other symptoms.
It was at that time that my wife found a new dentist. Our sister-in-law recommended him because of the great job he had done with her teeth in order to restore a proper bite. So my wife began seeing Dr. Haddad at Rochester Advanced Dentistry because she had suffered from TMJ problems for over 20 years.
In the process of time after Dr. Haddad applied his techniques in rebuilding her bite, my wife’s condition began to improve greatly. She became a regular patient and befriended the entire staff. During one of her visits, she spoke with Dr. Haddad about my situation. He said that he had some patients with symptoms similar to mine that he was able to help. He said that several of them had experienced a significant reduction in their symptoms. Naturally, my wife tried to encourage me to see Dr. Haddad and see what he had to say about my condition. I was very skeptical. I had already seen the specialists. I already received the diagnosis. So I ignored Dr. Haddad’s invitation and did nothing. I continued to suffer.
As time went by, I could not deny the great progress that my wife was experiencing regarding her TMJ issues. Instead of resignation and despair while she suffered for many years, she now felt relief and happiness. She kept saying that Dr. Haddad was the best dentist she ever had in her entire life. She told me that his invitation to me was still open. Dr. Haddad said that he would like to evaluate my condition and determine whether or not he thought he could help. I had nothing to lose. I finally decided to make an appointment.
So in the summer of 2017, after 7 years of misery, I showed up for my appointment to Rochester Advanced Dentistry not knowing what to expect. I was interested to hear what Dr. Haddad would say. He took detailed images of the TMJ area, my upper jaw bone and my teeth. He made some technical measurements related to my bite. I gave him a detailed history of my symptoms as well as information that I received from all of the other doctors that I had seen over the last 7 years. I wanted him to have a complete picture of my situation.
Then he said it. He said, “I think I can help you.”
Dr. Haddad said that my problem was both simple and complex. Simply put, due to the gradual loss of tooth material caused by lifelong grinding and clenching, my left upper jaw bone (TMJ) had interfered with tissues surrounding the inner ear area of my left ear. Over time, it had pressed into and partially worn away protections that surround that sensitive area. He believed that a threshold was crossed which brought on the Meniere’s symptoms. The complexity of the inner ear and all of its miraculous balance, functions and purposes was compromised as a result.
So why did my upper jawbone invade the area around my inner ear? Dr. Haddad believes that decades of grinding my teeth reduced the height on both upper and lower teeth. When my teeth became shortened, the natural act of chewing (or grinding) forced the entire jaw upward and to the rear, toward the inner ear area, gradually leading to the damage.
Additionally, according to the images that Dr. Haddad took, the right side of my upper jaw was precariously close to doing the same thing to my right ear.
After I saw the images and consulted with Dr. Haddad, I decided to proceed with his plan.
I can’t hope to explain it as well as Dr. Haddad, but the plan basically consisted of a complete rebuild of my bite. This is where the complexity kicks in. It’s not a simple thing to properly rebuild a bite. This is cutting-edge stuff and Dr. Haddad is both a pioneer and instructor in his technique.
The first challenge involves finding the true position of the jaw/bite. This is done using sophisticated equipment and accurate measurements. I’m leaving out many details, but it involves the neuromuscular aspects of jaw positioning in addition to accurate metrics. Once the true position of the jaw/bite is ascertained and meets with Dr. Haddad’s approval, a removable orthotic appliance is precisely created to maintain the proper metrics. The retraining of the neuromuscular aspects of the jaw has now begun and the upper jawbone is encouraged (by the orthotic) to remain in its proper position.
The very week that I received my orthotic appliance, the dizziness left me. For the first time in 7 years, I felt steady. The tinnitus was reduced by half. My hearing was slightly improved as a result of the reduced tinnitus. Time will tell to what degree, if any, the affected components of my inner ear will heal enough to allow better hearing ability. Regardless, my life has improved far beyond my expectations.
Since my treatment began 12 months ago, I have not experienced a vertigo attack of any kind. I’m rock steady on my feet. The tinnitus is tolerably lower. There has been a very slight improvement in hearing. My confidence is back.
Encouraged by the decrease of my symptoms with the removable orthotic and after talking it over with Dr. Haddad, I decided to make the improvement in my jaw/bite permanent. Dr. Haddad has replaced the removable orthotic with a permanent, accurate and complete rebuild of my bite. He did a beautiful job. Not only do I have a correct bite and jaw position, but my teeth also look like they did when I was much younger.
The primary goal in all of this was to achieve a proper jaw position through a rebuilt bite in the hope that my severe symptoms would be alleviated or eliminated. That hope has been realized beyond my expectations. Although the hearing in my left ear is still diminished, the other symptoms are either completely gone or greatly reduced. Even if my situation does not improve beyond this current level I am thrilled with what has been achieved.
I thank God that He has given knowledge, skill and passion for this profession to Dr. Haddad. It gives me great happiness to recommend Dr. Haddad and his team at Rochester Advanced Dentistry with the highest recommendation possible. Rochester Advanced Dentistry is full of excellent people in every aspect of this practice. Although I cannot say enough good things about Dr. Haddad as a person or as a professional, this review would not be complete without also recognizing Rachael, Dr. Haddad’s right hand and professional assistant. Her experience and skill beautifully complimented every step of the process. She was integrally involved from beginning to end. As well as a trusted and relied upon professional, Rachael is one of the finest and nicest human beings that you will ever encounter.
Dr. Haddad and Rachael have made my life (and my wife’s life) immeasurably better. Words cannot express the level of my gratitude, but I hope this review will help to serve as a proper “thank you”.