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Patrick Grossman Wilkes Case

Dr. Patrick Grossman

Wilkes III and Wilkes IV Case


This case describes the complex treatment of a 16 yr old girl who was referred in 2008 by her GDP on account of her ongoing and debilitating headaches, TMJ pain, clicking and left-sided locking. Since 2001 she had attended an osteopath on a regular basis for head and neck pain, right foot/calf pain and lower back pain. She had consulted other musculo-skeletal specialists who diagnosed

  • restriction of atlanto-axial joint
  • leg length discrepancy
  • asymmetric gait pattern

Treatment from 2006 included lower intra-oral orthotic, upper ALF appliance, acupuncture, medication, and psychotherapy. None of these treatment modalities had given her any appreciable relief.

An MRI report (2006) of her TMJs stated “anteriorly displaced non-reducing disc on left side (Wilkes IV) with rotated anteriorly displaced partially reducing disc on right (Wilkes III).”

See Fig 1

Patrick Grossman Wilkes Case

Note that the occlusion in 2006 gives no indication as to the degree of degenerative joint disease (see MRI report).

Diagnosis and Treatment

At her consultation with me in 2008, the patient reported two significant facts, namely that she was a forceps delivery and aged 5 years, she had fallen down the stairs and banged her jaw. Her chief concerns were

  • jaw pain
  • headaches
  • backache
  • chronic fatigue

Clinical examination revealed 35 symptoms related to TMJ dysfunction including reduced vertical and lateral movements.
Maximum opening   40mm (normal value 48-52mm)
Left and right lateral movement = 10mm (normal value 12-15mm)

A diagnosis was made of bilateral internal derangement of the TMJs associated with muscle spasm.

A further MRI was taken in 2008 which reported that the left side was unchanged although the right was relatively normal.

See Fig 2

Patrick Grossman Wilkes Case

Treatment was carried out in accordance with the protocol developed by Dr B C Stack ,namely splint treatment to decompress both joints combined with disc plication surgery to restore normal anatomy and function. This constitutes Stage 1 treatment. When the patient is stable and painfree then Stage 2 orthodontic treatment is undertaken to close the posterior open bite without altering the corrected maxillo-mandibular relationship. Splint height is determined by use of A.K testing and the position in which the patient is comfortable. 

See Fig 3

Patrick Grossman Wilkes Case

As can be seen from the photos, the splint height was unusually high which complicated Stage 2 stabilization orthodontic treatment.

At a joint consultation in 2008 with a max-fac consultant surgeon it was decided to continue splint treatment for a further 5 months prior to carrying out a left disc plication procedure. Surgery was supported by intensive physiotherapy in the form of the Therabite exerciser.  One week post op, the patient reported no headaches and no back pain. Her symptoms continued to fluctuate over the following 6 months with a recurring pain over the left joint and now discomfort in the right joint. In 2009 a right disc plication procedure was undertaken following which the patient reported a significant improvement in her headaches and back ache. Five months post surgery she completed a7 mile walk which she could not have contemplated previously.

Over the course of the following 6 months she felt well and it was decided to undertake Stage 2 orthodontic treatment.  Soon after the treatment had started the patient reported “cracking sounds in both joints” and so orthodontic treatment was suspended. She was advised to continue wearing her lower splint and following a further maxillo facial consultation and new MRI, revision surgery on both joints was undertaken in 2011.  The patient restarted Stage 2 stabilisation treatment in 2013 and treatment was completed 18 months later.

Fig 4  composite blocks bonded to lower terminal molars to maintain correct maxillo-mandibular relationship

Patrick Grossman Wilkes Case

Fig 5  note that after composite blocks were removed terminal molars are now in good occlusion

Patrick Grossman Wilkes Case


This case was extremely challenging given the lengthy treatment time and the complex orthodontics necessary to close the severe posterior open bite. It also highlights how difficult it can be for the clinician to inform a patient as to how long their treatment will take.

Patrick Grossman BDS D Orth RCS

Patrick Grossmann graduated in 1974 from the University College Hospital Dental School, London University, followed by postgraduate studies in Orthodontics at the University of Freiburg, Germany.

In 1980, he was appointed Senior Dental Officer for the South London Health Authority, a part-time position he held for 15 years whilst maintaining a private practice in London.

Patrick Grossmann co-founded the British Society for the Study of Craniomandibular Disorders in 1992, a group including dentists, orthodontists, osteopaths, chiropractors and other healthcare workers. The BSSCMD, which hosts regular meetings with international speakers, has at its core the objective of bringing an appreciation and understanding of the complexities of Craniomandibular Dysfunction (CMD) to all healthcare professionals. CMD is multifaceted and overlaps numerous disciplines, dental, medical and surgical. For this reason, he is particularly pleased to have been invited by the BSEM to participate in their autumn 2016 Oral Health Conference.

Patrick Grossman Wilkes Case