TAMMY BALATGEK, DDS, MS
Dr. Tammy Balatgek provides diagnosis and treatments for TMJ Disorders, headaches, snoring, and Sleep Apnea. She received her Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) degree from THE Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio and a Master of Science Degree in Craniofacial Pain through Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts. She has earned Diplomate Status with the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine and Fellowship status with the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain. She has attended over 1500 hours of continuing education in TMJ Disorders, snoring, sleep apnea, orthodontics, and related topics.
Dr. Balatgek is also a forensic dentist for Berks County and Philadelphia County. She aids authorities in identifying deceased persons through dental records. She also helps law enforcement with criminal cases where bite marks are involved.
Dr. Balatgek is an active member of the following organizations:
- American Society of Forensic Dentistry
- American Academy of Craniofacial Pain
- American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine
- International Association for Orthodontics
- American Academy of Sleep Medicine
- American Academy of Orofacial Pain
- Berks County Chamber of Commerce
"Dr. Tammy" is a native of Berks County. She also goes serves philanthropically by going on dental mission trips to Jamaica, participating yearly with MOM-N-PA local dental mission, and as a committee member for St. Joe's Penn State Hospital Charity Ball. Outside of the office, Dr. Balatgek enjoys cooking, gardening, travel, and spending time with her two adult daughters, Leigh and Kate.
In addition to hundreds of hours of postdoctoral training (click to download CV), Dr. Tammy Balatgek has personal experience to add when caring for patients in pain. She is passionate about helping people with headaches and facial pain, as she suffered with symptoms for over 20 years.
Dr. Balatgek’s Story…
My pain story began when I had my braces as a teenager. My teeth were very crowded and my lower jaw was trapped behind my crowded upper teeth, causing it to pinch nerves and blood vessels that led to inflammation within the jaw joint. The inflammation then caused headaches and facial pain. Unfortunately, my orthodontic treatment plan involved extraction of permanent teeth to align the other teeth, which gave me straight teeth but kept the lower jaw set back too far. So for many years, I would suffer with at least two migraines per month, sometimes up to two per week. At that time, the migraine abortive medicine, Imitrex, was just being introduced. It came in the form of an injection. I can remember giving myself jabbing shots in the arm or leg with the burning serum, and then feeling the wave of relief wash over me, allowing me to function. During college, I recall a photograph of myself with a can of cold soda against my head to help ease the pain! As time went on, the migraine headaches continued two to four times per month and I was also getting daily tension headaches in which my entire face would hurt. I experienced several sinus infections each fall and winter. I tried several different pharmaceutical approaches, however, the headaches still persisted.
I was able to get through college and dental school, and then came additional life pressures. With a full time dental practice and two young children to care for, the headaches and facial pain were unwanted distractions and at times, would consume me. I can remember having to lie down in a dental chair over lunch, close my eyes in a dark room, and be awoken by the staff to treat patients for the afternoon. At the end of the day, I would rush home to my children, only to crash on the couch with an ice pack and miss out on the enjoyment of spending time with them due to the headaches. I missed out on much that life had to offer due to living in chronic pain.
About eight years into my dental career, I attended an orthodontic course in which the speaker had talked about migraines and “TMJ”. As a typical general dentist, I knew that “TMJ” (temporomandibular or jaw joint) was part of the lower jaw, however, I didn’t know the signs and symptoms of a TMJ disorder. When I held my hands in front of my ears and opened and closed my mouth, I heard and felt my jaw clicking and popping. That was a significant turning point in my life. I attended any course that I could to learn about jaw joint disorders so I could get rid of my pain. I was the first patient to be treated by myself and I wore a mouthpiece on my lower teeth. The mouthpiece moved my lower jaw away from the nerves and blood vessels so they were no longer pinched, and my headaches decreased significantly. I stopped taking all medication and was finally alive and able to live my life without debilitating pain.
My thirst for knowledge continued and the natural progression of learning the anatomy of the jaw joint led to a greater understanding of the airway and sleep disordered breathing, such as snoring and sleep apnea. I realized this information was not readily available to dentists or physicians and felt a responsibility to share this knowledge by providing these treatments in my practice. I was able to positively change my life and I am more than eager to share this information to help others live free from what may seem like endless pain and headaches! We have answers you have been looking for, the understanding that you have real symptoms and are not “crazy”, and the compassion to listen to what you have to say.
-Dr. Tammy Balatgek