The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — It has been more than 40 years since Robert L. Talley, DDS, attended OU; married his college sweetheart, Pamela Johnson; graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry 1971 and returned to Norman to start his practice.
Since 1983, Dr. Talley has been dealing exclusively with Temporomandibular joint disorder disorders and sleep-disordered breathing in his Norman-based practice.
As a new dentist, Talley thought he was up-to-date and knowledgeable. For roughly 10 years, he practiced restorative dentistry and created beautiful smiles. Despite dazzling teeth, many of his patients weren’t happy, however. Instead, they were experiencing symptoms such as jaw click and popping, chronic headaches, earaches, facial and neck pain, dizziness and fatigue.
Talley realized he needed to learn more.
Together with his staff, he embarked on a quest for continuing education and training leading him to his current practice
Aileen Manross, an industrial engineer who lives in Norman, is a patient whose life was affected by Talley’s work.
Manross suffered from constant headaches. Her dentist referred her to Talley, who diagnosed and treated her jaw joint. Once her jaw was stabilized, she was put into braces to address the alignment of her teeth and bite, and she is now pain free.
Manross recalls how Talley would raise the dental chair she was sitting in, so that they could talk eye-to-eye about her treatment plan and progress.
“He has the best bedside manner of any doctor. It’s not just about my jaw pain. It’s about me as a person,” Manross said.
Susan Wood, who teaches elementary music in Norman and sings professionally, also benefited from treatment. As a professional singer, Wood uses her jaw in ways that others do not. Unlike many of Talley’s patients, she never experienced pain. One weekend Wood’s jaw locked open and her general dentist referred her.
Once her jaw was stabilized, Wood decided she was finished with treatment. She ignored the occasional clicking, popping, and locking of her jaw until it simply became impossible for her to do so. This realization came at a luncheon where she was attempting to eat yet unable to keep the food in her mouth.
Embarrassed, she returned to Talley for help.
“He didn’t make me feel worse or like I did anything wrong,” said Wood. “He explained that it was the progression of my TMJ disorder and that the lack of pain had done me a disservice. Thanks to the treatment I received, I have been symptom-free for the past 10 years.”
Well into his 40th year as a dentist, Talley approaches each day in his practice with the same enthusiastic attitude he felt as a new dentist. His secret?
“Discovering new ways to help patients, scaling the next mountain and, perhaps most importantly, getting a quality night’s sleep,” he said.
Tally recently added athletic mouthguards to his list of patient services. He is constantly researching new treatments to facilitate joint healing, such as platelet-rich plasma therapy, which he has incorporated into his practice protocols. He is also focused on use of the latest technology, including Cone-Beam Computerized Tomography. With a typical scan time of 20 seconds or less, this state-of-the-art imaging technology enables Talley to obtain complete, 3D view of all oral and maxillofacial structures while exposing his patients to significantly lower radiation doses as compared to traditional CT scans.
Talley serves on the board of directors of the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain, an organization he co-founded in 1985 and has since become the largest professional organization in dentistry devoted to TMJ disorders and dental sleep medicine.
As part of his participation in the AACP, Talley designed and now teaches a course on Dental Sleep Medicine in conjunction with Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston, MA.
He also lectures internationally on TMJ disorders and sleep-disordered breathing, and it is not unusual for him to invite other dentists to visit him in Norman, so they can “shadow” him and see first-hand how he assesses, diagnoses and treats TMD and sleep patients.
An active member of the Norman community, over the years Dr. Talley has been a Health for Friends dental services provider and volunteered his services to the J.D. McCarty Center for children with developmental disabilities. He is also a past-president of the Norman Lions Club and enjoys supporting the Sooner Theater together with this wife, Pam.
One of Talley’s favorite sayings is, “Your perception is your reality.”
For his part, Dr. Talley is as enthusiastic about the dental profession today as he was when he started more than 40 years ago.
Talley’s office is located at 448 36th Avenue NW, Suite 103 in Norman.