San Diego practice limited to treating Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ) and Orofacial Pain.

William Halligan, DDS

We offer a safe, non-surgical approach to rapid & long-lasting relief from orofacial pain and TMJ disorders.

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halligan-3upl-homepage390WELCOME, you are our greatest concern! We are dedicated exclusively to the treatment of orofacial pain and TMJ disorders. We provide you with special, individualized care delivered by a highly qualified staff.  Dr. Halligan has treated hundreds of patients with TMJ dysfunction, headaches and neck pain.

We offer many treatment options based upon the personal diagnosis of each individual. Should you have any questions or comments, let us know. We understand you have a choice of practices from which to choose, and we look forward to offering you the experienced, excellent care you deserve.

Lines written a few miles above Walter’s Wiggles


Zion Canyon. The West Rim is on the right; Angel’s Landing is lower right.

There’s no accounting for the passage of time. Clocks and calendars while seeming to measure the flow of moments or years or lifetimes, aren’t really up to the task. How can 600 pages torn from faded calendars explain why some fifty year-old memories seem as fresh to me as last week’s?  How can a canyon take 250 million years to form?  How can re-visiting a favorite old backcountry climb here in Utah cause such a burst of emotion, though it’s been many years since I’ve been here? The very passage of time seems less than real.

I’m on a hike with my wife, Andrea, to the west rim of Zion Canyon and while here, I seem to step into Wordsworth’s famous poem about his walking tour above Tintern Abbey. Even though he wrote of a time and place 216 years in the past and thousands of miles from here, the lines of the poem ring true for me.

The hills above the Abbey held special meaning for Wordsworth, but he had not climbed in that country for five years. He wrote that the place had not been unseen in all that time however; often when the crush of the city strife became too much for him, he would revisit these vistas in his mind and find that it calmed him.

He remembered that when five years younger he could bound over the mountainsides like a deer—not quite the case when he sat writing the most

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Got (RAW) Milk?


I grew up on whole, raw, unpasteurized, non-homogenized, unaltered milk fresh from our organic pasture-fed herd of Guernsey cows. Now, to be fair, the word “organic” wasn’t  thrown around back in those days, but we did not use any herbicides, pesticides, or artificial fertilizer on our pastures, so I think our green meadows qualified.

You could see the cows grazing on fields of clover on misty mornings, the green pasture looking like a painting by John Constable, a little trout stream, with weeping willow trees along its banks, flowing along the northern edge. Early mornings, often before dawn, we’d head out to the barn and milk our 20 cows by hand, the milk splashing with a metallic ring into pails that we then poured into 3 foot high milk cans—the kind you only see in antique stores these days.

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The Cutest Grandbaby in the World


For years I’ve seen those ubiquitous—at least in our more senior neighborhoods—bumper stickers urging everyone to, “Ask me about my grandchildren!”

Sure. Fine. Maybe I will. Or not.

Until little Esmee came along.

My youngest, Scott, a child of California suburbia, earned his master’s degree in music from the New England Conservatory (NEC), in Boston. Can you just imagine this Southern California boy commuting from his rented walk-up in Cambridge down to Boston on a clunker bike in the winter in the snow? Perhaps with a cello on his back?

It didn’t seem natural.

Esmee's neighborhood.

Esmee’s neighborhood.

And after his rather artful, jazz improv master’s recital he actually stayed in the cold country of the east. Married to Chelynn in the summer of 2012, with a full teaching schedule and a rented apartment attached to a century-old farm house a few miles outside Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, my son and daughter-in-law have their first child. Yep; the cutest grandbaby in the world. Esmee.

Of course we had to fly back to see the baby. Any grandparent could relate; after all this is only common practice, repeated thousands of times each year throughout the land. But this time it was my grandbaby.

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The Pacific Crest Trail in a Dry Year

Stellar's Jay in Idyllwild.

Stellar’s Jay in Idyllwild, California. Photo courtesy SD Dirk under a Creative Commons license.

A boy of about twenty, with a substantial pack and good hiking boots, long pants and dusty T-shirt stood at the Cienega Junction on the PCT. He was studying a small map with far too few details;  his face looked drawn and was as gray and dusty as his clothes.


Andrea and I had been over much of this country in two days, from the town of Idyllwild up the Devil’s Slide trail and PCT past Wellman’s Divide to Round Valley where we had to melt snow for cooking and drinking because the spring-fed spigot in camp was dry. And there was very little snow left for melting. We’d been to the top of San Jacinto Peak and now we were headed back to town. The boy was standing in the middle of the trail.

“Where are you going?”

“North,” the boy said.

I understood. That’s the answer they all give when they’re attempting the whole of the PCT, from the Mexican border close to Lake Morena all the way to Canada some 2700 miles. North.

He held his map high in front of his face in the afternoon sun. “Is this where I turn?”


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Would You Like Scaling and Root Planing With That?


Angela, a bright, pretty, 30 year old came to me for a TMJ exam last week and when I asked her who her general dentist was, she told me she didn’t have one.

“I just moved to San Diego from the east coast and I am looking for a new dentist. I went to Acme Dental Clinic (not the real clinic name) for a dental exam but I’m not going back there. I think they’re a scam.”

“Really? What happened?”

“They told me I needed 4 visits of deep cleaning for my periodontal disease and that I should also get my teeth whitened. They were selling those things pretty hard. I just got a bad feeling about them.”

I did six-point perio probing. This young lady had no visible calculus and I found one place—mesial of #3—that had a probe score of 4 mm. All the other scores were 2 or 3 mm. Healthy, normal gum tissue and no bleeding points whatsoever. Four quadrants of root planning? Totally unnecessary.

I put down my perio probe and Angela looked up at me. “Well?”

“Well, I’m just trying to find a polite word for BS. Sorry, I can’t think of one.”

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Sherpa Stew and Yak Butter Apple Pie

Horse with the setting sun in Kyanjin Village, Nepal.

Horse with the setting sun in Kyanjin Village, Nepal.

The mountain came into view at dawn, a beautiful alpenglow pink against a still dark but clearing sky. Lang Tang, 23,711 feet tall, is not even in the top ten of Himalayan peaks, but its magnificent shape captured me. We were at the first of several tea houses on our way up the Lang Tang Valley to Kyanjin—and all the way the mountain would tower above us.

I suppose I knew what to expect—you can Google anything these days. Our first tea house, the glass windows of the dining room a collage of stickers advertising everything from helicopter service “anywhere in Nepal, including Everest Base Camp,” to various trekking and climbing guides, was about a day’s walk below the small village of Lang Tang and the Lang Tang Monastery.  The stickers on the window were in a world of languages from English, German, and French to Japanese.

This first lodging place had its own mini hydro-electric generator and there was power to charge cameras and iPads, but only for a few hours each evening. The toilet facility was an outhouse a dozen yards down a small slope. When you flushed, by pouring water from a big blue plastic bucket, the effluence was carried by a pipe straight into the Lang Tang River. The river runs so clear and clean-looking, a seemingly pristine Himalayan stream. But you don’t want to drink from it.

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Chop Wood, Carry Water…and answer your cell phone

Old meets new in the Middle Himalayas

Mt. Everest with its familiar plume of blowing snow.

Mt. Everest with its familiar plume of blowing snow.

I’m in the back seat of the bus from Kathmandu to Pharping, literally the end of the road. It’s a jouncing and twisting hour-long ride and although I never suffer from car-sickness I’m fighting nausea with every turn on this mountain road; at Pharping I’m happy to make my way to the front of the bus so I can get off. But when I do, the heavy choking smell of wood smoke nearly overwhelms me. This is certainly no better. I fear I may be suffering the fate of almost every traveler who comes to Nepal–an Asian version of Montezuma’s revenge. I think about the chicken curry lunch I had the previous day at an historic stupa in Kathmandu. As it turns out, it’s going to be more than a few hours before my stomach is back to even semi-normal. There will be some very un-pretty scenes along the trail to Kafleni.

I’m traveling with a small group from REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) and from Pharping we’ll hike several miles and climb two or three thousand feet into the middle Himalayas and camp for a few days and nights with the snowcapped mountains I’ve read about and dreamed of crowning the horizon to the north and west. From my campsite, and then from the hills above it, I can see Langtang, Manasulu and, in the distance, Annapurna.

I came to Nepal to do some trekking in the higher Himalayas, but the trip will take us first to these lower elevations in the middle Himalayas and also to Chitwan National Park. I’m sure that one reason for the sojourn in this lower range is to showcase some of the work done by the charitable foundation, Nepal SEEDS. And it turns out, that work is worth seeing.

Hari Pudasaini in the Himalayas.

Hari Pudasaini in the Himalayas.

Our camp is set up just above the village of Kafleni, one of several small villages that dot the dramatic hillsides here. With us are K.P. Kafle, a renowned Himalayan guide, Hari Pudasiani, a tall and sturdy looking man and also a well-known mountain guide and Jorlal Thing. Jorlal was born in the high Himalayas and is disarmingly quick with a smile or a charming joke. But after a short time with him, you know he’s a good man to have with you on a tough climb.

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A 1950s Christmas


We lived in those days in a modest farmhouse at the end of a gravel country road a quarter mile off the two lane county highway. There was a barn and in the winter our cows did not venture outside (of course there’s a story about the cow manure and how we spread it over snowy fields in winter, but perhaps that’s for another time); there was a chicken coop, a machine shed and a garage with room for our one car—a 1951 Chevy Bel Air.

A few days before Christmas Grandpa drove us on snowy roads into town. You entered town from the west and you couldn’t see the main street or its stores and offices until you cleared a little crest of a hill and then the town of Black River Falls came into view below you, all snow at the sides of Main Street and the river at the far end of town frozen over and guys ice fishing and the Highway 12 bridge arching over. Now the town was dressed up for Christmas. There was a manger scene in front of St. Joseph’s Parish, the Catholic Church that stood at the top of the hill overlooking main street. Green garland stretched across Main Street from the county hospital on the north side of the street to the library on the south. Another ran from Pough’s Hardware to the City Café and one more from Gamble’s Department Store to the Shell gas station. And from each garland a big silver bell was suspended over  the street. I was certain that Bing Crosby—whom I called Big Crosby then, after all what kind of name was Bing?—had driven through our town and our garland and 3 foot high bells must have been on his mind when he sang “Silver Bells”, on the radio.

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River Memory


Ihave written about this little stretch of river before, (see Sand, Stars and The E-Myth) but the Colorado River is a treasury of memory. Standing at the upper boat dock just last week brought some of them streaming back to me. My dad introduced me to this place decades ago. His smiling face, big hands, constant humor, and ultimate skill with a rod and reel fill a lot of those memories.

Dad was a man of big dreams abandoned or unrealized and I suppose that makes him pretty much like the rest of us. In his younger days he was a standout high school baseball player and even played some minor league ball in the old Illinois-Indiana-Iowa league.

Even though the phrase comfortable in his own skin fit Dad more than anyone else I’ve ever known, he could also have been the inspiration for Bruce Springsteen’s Glory Days. He never forgot his glory days. Even in his 50s, he kept his high school yearbooks around and he’d occasionally read aloud from them—especially the paragraphs that glowingly described this kid who might have been the best schoolboy baseball player in the state.

The New York Yankees had a strong interest in him. He probably thought he was the next Ty Cobb or Ted Williams. He batted an astounding .500 in the minors. But a wild kid driving a stolen ’42 Buick 90 miles an hour on a country blacktop road

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Chipotle Women on Mt. Whitney

William and Andrea Halligan on Mt. Whitney.

William and Andrea Halligan on Mt. Whitney. Photo courtesy Lisa Crooke.

One night after we’d returned home, I woke up from a dream with some words echoing in my head and I scribbled them down. In the morning I didn’t remember writing them and in fact—since they were written in the dark—could hardly make them out: “If you see a distinction between the genders, it does not make you sexist.”  I don’t know who said it; I’m certain I didn’t just grab it from the ether, but there you have it.

That was after.

My wife and I signed up for the REI Labor Day hike on the Western Trail to Mt. Whitney months ahead of time.  As you probably know, Mt. Whitney is the highest peak in the contiguous 48 states, at 14, 505 feet—give or take, and depending on who’s measuring. And on the Sunday before the holiday we were to meet our group close to the Cottonwood Lakes trailhead. So we were there. We were on time and in the right place and looking for them.

We did see a group of women all gathered together with gear neatly stacked on an old grey canvas tarp at the pack station and there were horses and mules and a couple of cowboys hoisting duffel bags and heavy aluminum boxes. “Can’t be our group,” I said to Andrea. “Looks like some kind of women’s outing.”

A tall, young guy, lean and built like a rock climber—powerful forearms and sinewy legs—walked up to us. I noticed that his shoes were untied. “Do you guys need some help?”

“Sure. We’re looking for the REI group.”

“You found it. They’re all getting their stuff ready down by that big tarp.”

Was it too late to cancel? “Oh man; it’s a chick trip.”

Andrea stood silently for a moment and then her grey-green eyes went the color of a forest when a misty fog descends on it. She turned away.

I took her arm and faced her. “What is it?”

She nodded toward the group just below us. “No guys for you to hang with?  I’m afraid you’re just going to hate this.”

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