I was talking to my dentist about some jaw pain. He asked me a few questions and said he thinks I have TMJ disorder. We scheduled a follow-up appointment to run some additional tests and discuss treatment. After I got home I started wondering if instead of just going to my general dentist about this I should schedule an appointment with a TMJ Dentist. What do you think? Is it safe to stay with my dentist for this?
Your doubts are based on a common misunderstanding about TMJ. There isn’t really such a thing as a TMJ Dentist. By that I mean there isn’t a recognized TMJ specialty with the American Dental Association (ADA). All TMJ dentists are just general dentists. That being said, it doesn’t mean every general dentist is qualified to treat TMJ. It does require specialized training. So how do you know if your particular dentist has what it takes?
The first thing I’d do is check their website. If they have a TMJ page, check to see if they list any specific training. If they don’t have a page, check their bio. They should list some respected institute where they did post-doctoral studies in TMJ diagnosis and treatment. For instance, Dr. Delaune trained at the esteemed Dawson Academy. Other respected institutes would be among the following:
- The Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies (LVI)
- The Kois Center
- The Pankey Institute
- Spear Institute
There are others, but these are among the best.
Warning Signs about TMJ Dentist
One thing to be aware of is aggressiveness in treatment. Dentists with expertise in TMJ will start with the least invasive treatment options first. If your dentist goes straight to suggesting a full mouth reconstruction, I’d quickly get a second opinion. Those are only necessary in severe cases and other solutions are tried first.
Often jaw pain can be caused by teeth grinding or clenching. Patients may not even recognize they’re doing it, especially if it only occurs while they’re sleeping. In that case, wearing a simple custom-fitted night guard is all you need to solve the problem.
This blog is brought to you by New Orleans Dentist Dr. Duane Delaune.