The Balanced Jaw (Bite) Concept

Many years ago, Doctor Henry Tanner unraveled the mysteries of clenching. He 

created the ‘balanced jaw concept’ by synchronizing one's bite with one's jaw; 

in other words, he balanced jaws by balancing bites. A balanced jaw simply 

means that jaw is functioning correctly in the right position. TMJ or Advanced 

Periodontal disease does not occur when the jaw is functioning correctly. TMJ, 

and other related problems, only occurs when one clenches on an unbalanced 

bite. I cannot imagine practicing dentistry without using Tanner's concepts now; 

but I did just that for many years before I understood his philosophy of 

dentistry. He was not the first to recognize that the bite affected dentistry; 

however, he was the first to developed techniques that worked consistently.  

 

We (dentists) have our own professional vocabulary, but we often interpret 

professional words differently. To avoid this, I try to imagine sitting in front of a 

patient, a colleague, or a friend in another branch of medicine, using words they 

will understand. I have learned this by doing just that over the years. 

Unfortunately, I will still cause confusion, but hopefully, helpful information will 

emerge.  


 

My message is to reveal a concept that is old but ‘new’. The balanced jaw 

concept has been around for many years, but it is still new because so few 

dentists know about it. Because of Dr. Tanner's genius, he was able to make 

complex clenching problems understandable. My hope is that I can popularize his 

concept. If you are a patient, this information may not physically help, but if you 

learn how and why you have TMJ and other dental problems, you gain control 

over what is done to you.


There is enough information provided to get you started in the Tanner Concept 

if you are a dentist. A physician may find this information useful. 


I am often asked about TMJ specialists. There is no such thing as a TMJ 

specialist; but if a dentist wants to be one, he can just hang up a shingle. Most 

of them have not learned the ‘balance jaw concept’, so I would be a little 

suspicious of one. To find a dentist that knows about the ‘balanced jaw 

concept’ (Tanner’s techniques), you have to call a number of them. If a dentist 

uses the Tanner methods, he or she will be excited you called, because doctors 

using his methods are very proud to be associated with him; however, it is not a 

sure thing that they are really qualified.


 

If Tanner made this concept understandable, then why aren't there tons of dentists 

qualified to effectively treat clenching problems. First there are no (or very few) 

teachers in dental schools or circuit lectures that understand Tanner's concepts. So

students and dentists only get more confused. 


I spent 2 years with Dr. Michael Kadair learning how to be a qualified occlusal 

therapist. You can't learn it in a 3 day program (that includes The Panky Institute).


I was searching the web for information on the Tanner appliance and found an 

article (with twelve dentists associated in the article) claiming that there is no 

conclusive evidence that the Tanner appliance will help TMJ problems. When 

you see nonsense like this you can be assured that there were 12 dentists not

qualified to balance a jaw. The web is full of this kind if junk; for example, 

orthodontists claiming they can cure TMJ problems with orthodontics (always 

unbalanced); believe me that is not possible. When the jaw is balanced, one 

cannot have nocturnal clenching problems. Period!


I love writing about Tanner's methods because it changed the way I did things 

and it made dentistry exciting for me. The ‘balanced jaw concept’ is not understood

by most of my colleagues, yet it is the most important change in dentistry thus far. 

Dentistry will change when the concept is learned and accepted, which will be 

a wonderful thing for patients. I was fortunate to have Doctor Michael Kadair 

in my hometown. He is a master of Tanner's methods. He taught me Doctor 

Tanner's phenomenal method of occlusal therapy. I realized that I had been 

on the wrong road in treating destructive periodontal disease and TMJ problems; 

I had no idea that clenching was so common and so damaging.  


 

Problems caused by nocturnal clenching are so numerous that I call it a 

syndrome. You may not think your patients clench, but all of them have some 

degree of TMJ and/or dental problems, even though it may not bother them 

enough to notice them. Believe it or not, clenching causes virtually all TMJ and 

dental problems save dental decay, tartar formation and gingivitis; yet, in subtle 

ways, even they are affected by clenching.  


 

Clenching always affects muscles, TM joints, and teeth, but in different ways. 

Involvement can vary greatly. For example, one can have major muscle 

problems, such as spastic torticollis (Dystonia), but minimal TM joint and tooth 

problems. Or, one can have serious tooth problems, but minimal joint and 

muscle problems. It depends on what one does with one's teeth during 

clenching, that is, which teeth one clench on, and how much one squeezes 

(clenches).  


 

A better name for clenching problems would be ‘Occlusomuscular Disease’ 

because it is a relationship between one's occlusion (bite) and muscles that 

move one's jaw. But we can’t discount ‘TMJ’ as a useful name because it is the 

most used name for pathology caused by nocturnal clenching.


  

Balancing one's jaw (bite) does not stop nocturnal clenching. Nocturnal Clenching 

is unstoppable with drugs or devices. However, balancing one's jaw does stop the pain 

and other problems cause by clenching. So what is a balance bite/jaw? We have 

two bites. One we use when awake and another when we sleep. The awake bite is 

balanced because of muscle programming. However when we sleep the muscle 

programming is asleep too. The sleeping bite is not balanced because the condyles 

are seated naturally, not controlled by muscle programming, consequently the bite 

and condyles are not syncronized. 


You can learn more by downloading "The Clenching Syndrome" (no charge).


 

All symptoms of TMJ related problems are caused by clenching

(while sleeping) on an unbalanced jaw. You cannot have TMJ pain when 

clenching on a balanced jaw.