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.

Old Age: Are We There Yet?

William Halligan

William Halligan circa 1970s.

Sixty may be the new forty; but I’m not too sure about sixty-five.

Living warm in summer
Suddenly: The streets are filled
With Fallen leaves

Mt. San Jacinto, Southern California’s second highest peak, made me feel it: The undeniable approach of something beyond middle age. I first walked one of the several approaches to the summit when I was 17. Over the years I must have done the Devil’s Slide trail out of Idyllwild a few dozen times. A walk to the top is eight miles with 5,000 feet of climbing. My wife and I have done it a couple of times a year for the past 4 or 5 years. Sixteen miles round trip, a good day hike. Touch the summit, sit out front of the old stone cabin just shy of the top, take about an hour for lunch and then head back down. A moderate but very do-able 8 hour day. I always felt about the same, walking strong and quickly, heck I might have still been 17.

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The Lost Troop of Dragon Peak

We heard the helicopter long before we saw it. We were climbing a rough path in the eastern Sierra that qualified as something between a hiking trail and a rock climb. It was tough, rocky, strewn with slippery slabs of granite and loose gravel. My wife, Andrea, swore she could stand upright and reach out and touch the slope in front of her. Maybe a bit of an exaggeration; still this mountain trail was a tough one, ranking right up with the Bloody Canyon trail out of Walker Lake.

The helicopter came into view then, sweeping its way up valley from the town of Independence thousands of feet below us.


We were headed for Golden Trout Lake, out of Onion Valley. We’d climbed to Kearsarge Pass two days before, and then to Matlock Lakes. On that hike we’d met up with a forest ranger and chatting with him, Andrea mentioned our plans. “We’re going to Golden Trout Lake tomorrow and then on to Dragon Peak.”

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Doctors, do you leave your crowns just out of occlusion? Have another look.

To the dentist: are you cementing crowns that are just out of occlusion? I know it’s a fairly common practice, and is even advocated in some circles (see my article Last Tooth Standing).  There was a time, when I was just a boy in dentistry, a young pup starting out, when I would tell the lab to leave crowns just shy of occlusion. It seemed to beat grinding them in, which I saw as the only alternative.

But in my TMJ practice, I’m seeing a downside; and I’m seeing it often. Within the last month, I’ve seen two patients suffer a good deal of pain as a result of the practice of seating crowns that are just a bit out of occlusion.

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TMJ Screening of the Fisherman

My wife and I did some fairly extensive mountain (and road) biking in the Eastern Sierra last week.

William Halligan

Bonus points if you recognize the lake in the background and therefore have an idea of the grind it was to get here (hint: we started in Lee Vining).

Here’s one more.

Toulumne River, Yosemite National Park

Toulumne River, Yosemite National Park

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40 Years of Passion for Dentistry

William Halligan, Class of '72

Yours Truly — future TMJ Specialist

When I received the phone call from a USC dental school classmate inviting me to a 40 year reunion, I was something way short of excited. I hadn’t stayed in touch with more than a couple of the guys—and I use that term generically to refer to both male and female-type dentists—and I wasn’t sure I wanted to see the results of 40 years of leaning over a dental chair and listening to the high-pitched whine of a handpiece.

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Plugged In and Disconnected

We watched a man in a neighborhood park. He stood with a cell phone in both hands, head down, reading. Then he popped his thumbs over the key pad. The dog at his feet laid in the grass with paws stretched out in front, a yellow tennis ball close by.

The dog looked up at his owner. “Woof.”

Thirty seconds, then a minute went by. My wife and I walked past. The man’s gaze never left the cell phone.


We walked on another block and I looked back. The dog still lay at the man’s feet. The man still held the phone in both hands, his thumbs working the keypad.


Even a dog knows we’re too plugged in and disconnected.

And on local hiking trails, I often see a couple walking together. But when one of them has the little white ear buds of an iPod in his ears, what kind of walk together is that? One of our family friends confided in us that she hates going for walks with her husband because he listens to music on his MP3 player while they hike or stroll. She feels alone and isolated even though they’re together.

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Sand, Stars and The E-Myth

In our second bedroom is a bookshelf with quite a nice collection of books. The problem is: I haven’t read them all. One of those unread or partially read books is The E-Myth by Michael Gerber. I bought that book decades ago, opened it, read a few pages and put it back on the shelf. It just didn’t resonate with me. Maybe I was too young to get the message, or maybe I was just too darn dumb to pay attention. I never got rid of it however.

A few months ago my wife, Andrea, and I met Michael Gerber’s wife Luz Delia. She understands The E-Myth very well, so well in fact that it took her about 90 seconds to explain the nittty-gritty of it and how it definitely related to my practice. She gave us a gift: a new book entitled, The E-Myth Chiropractor. That book also sat around, but not for very long.

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The Long View—thinking long-term about your practice

“I love dentistry. I’d even do it for free. In fact, sometimes I do. And so do you. The difference is I know when I’m doing it for free.”
~ Omer Reed

To The Dentist: Thinking about your practice long-term

In a recent column in his Dental Town publication, Howard Farran wrote that in our current economy a dentist should reduce fees and join the discount dental insurance plans in order to stay busy and survive the downturn. He also recommended using low cost—read “cheap”—dental labs for work that requires a laboratory. This week, I just want to throw in my 2 cents. My opinion? Howard’s wrong on this one. Since Dr. Farran has an MBA and is one very bright dentist,

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Our Machu Picchu Adventure Included Dental Clinic Sightings

Christmas in Cusco: My wife, Andrea, and I flew to Lima, Peru on Christmas Eve and then on to Cusco on our way to hike the Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu. On the  flight to Lima I leafed through LAN’s inflight magazine and saw plenty of ads catering to the dental tourist. Can they beat the heck out of US fees on implants and implant restorations should the patient elect to fly south? You bet.

Cusco City. The famous Plaza de Armas is on the bottom right of the photo.

A single titanium implant can be placed for under $500 and the implant restoration placed for about the same fee. So, single implant and restoration for less than $1,000. It appears that the “all on four” approach to the full arch implant restoration has not caught on in this part of the world just yet. I saw ads for 12 implants and crowns per arch.

Euro Implant Center in the “Dentel” clinic, Cusco, Pero.

Are they providing the precision of excellent 3D conebeam guided implant placement? At those discounted fees, I doubt it. This past weekend, I attended a course on the latest in 3D imaging and how that technology relates to implant placement.  I asked one of the presenters, Dr. Jay Reznick, a Los Angeles oral surgeon, if he had seen any of the implant cases done at low cost South American clinics. He said he had.  While not all such cases are poor quality, those done at bargain basement fees would hardly qualify as a temporary in the States:  Final implant restorations done with thin aluminum shell crowns, chairside fabricated acrylic, etc.  And the implants themselves were of low quality and none were from reputable manufacturers.  The lesson as always is, read the fine print and beware of unbelievable bargains.

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Patient Reflections

Our patients become important members of our dental family. We care tremendously about the successful treatment of their TMJ disorders. We are thankful for their trust and commitment through the years, and are honored to share their reflections with you.

Here is a wonderful testimonial from Angela G:

Hello Dr. Halligan, Andrea and Debbie,

I just wanted to thank you for the wonderful medical treatment I received from you. You made me feel very comfortable and paid attention to my situation as if I was your only patient. I feel grateful to have known you personally as well as professionally. I think we have met before somewhere in time.

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