3 Reasons You Should See a TMJ Specialist About Your Jaw Pain
by Dr. Scott Bolding | Sept. 30 2021
“We have all the different disciplines of dentistry where we can actually bring the best minds around the patient. They understand their particular areas, but we can look at the patient as a collective group. Then, we come together after we’ve got our data points, present the diagnosis to the patient, and give them their comprehensive treatment plan. So we’re no longer just looking at it from one piece or one part of the puzzle; we have an entire team putting their best and brightest minds together for that patient as a collective whole. At PRECiDENT, its very important we work with their primary care dentist and primary care physician. We make sure that the entire healthcare team has the knowledge they need to make sure we’re treating this patient in a very collaborative fashion.”
– Dr. Scotty Bolding
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We Work Together with Other Specialists
So what exactly does seeing a TMJ specialist entail? And what is the benefit of seeing a TMJ specialist vs just seeing a dentist? Well, first, you should have a background on the role of each.
What is the Role of a TMJ specialist?
TMJ specialists fully assess patients’ situations and come up with solutions to their problems. TMJ specialists use their experience and training to do so alongside advanced technology that other physicians may not have access to or are not entirely trained to use. For example, many doctors and dentists are not trained to take an MRI of your jaw when treating TMJ pain. While it is not always necessary, it can be essential in finding what needs to be fixed. Without knowing how or when this step is necessary can alter your entire experience and may cost you more money and pain, without ever getting your actual issue solved.
What is the Role of a Dentist/Primary Care Physician?
Your dentist’s role is to promote oral health. They monitor the effectiveness and safety of your oral care. They also interpret data, X-rays, and tests to ensure your safety. After inspection, if they detect oral diseases, they can then treat you with routine procedures such as tooth extraction or cavity fillings. They may not always be able to help you on their own, however. In that case, they would refer you to someone with more expertise, such as an orthodontist, oral surgeon, or, of course, a TMJ or jaw specialist.
Your primary care physician, on the other hand, is responsible for regularly monitoring your overall health. They can specialize in specific areas such as pediatrics or internal medicine, but all primary care physicians are responsible for monitoring and treating your medical conditions as they arise to keep them from progressing and getting worse. One trait they hold in common with dentists is that they, too, do not always have the ability to treat your symptoms alone; therefore, they may refer you to someone like a cardiologist or neurologist.
After referral, your doctor or dentist can then supply the new TMJ specialist with your past and current records to help them figure out what’s going on. At PRECiDENT, our TMJ specialists work alongside that doctor or dentist rather than independently. This team approach will help everyone involved better figure out the cause of your issues. We all want you to get better as effectively and as soon as possible!
The Complexity of TMJ Disorders Requires a TMJ Specialist
TMJ disorders are complex. They often share symptoms with other issues which makes them hard to diagnose. Many times physicians alone don’t have a thorough enough understanding of how the jaw joint works. Having a TMJ specialist working with the rest of your medical team makes it easier to get an accurate diagnosis. Then, you can be sure you’re getting the right treatment.
You will want to go to someone who has a full understanding of both surgical and nonsurgical options and who has the tools to treat you properly in either case. At PRECiDENT, we manage injuries both surgically and nonsurgically; we have the proper imaging and understanding of the dynamics involved in both types of treatment. Some say surgery is the only option no matter what, but just like many other parts of your body, this is simply not true. If managed properly, your TMJ could potentially be treated in a non-surgical approach. For example, with mild knee injuries, you wouldn’t want to go straight into surgery without trying physical therapy or a knee brace first. Why would you want to go through all that if you don’t have to?
Additionally, the earlier you receive treatment, the better–it could potentially keep you from needing surgery in the future; initially, you may have a small issue, but over time, it could develop into something worse. So it’s important to at least contact a TMJ specialist or have one look at your TMJ to ensure you’re getting the proper treatment for your problems. If just one side stops functioning correctly, the other cannot do its job, either; both sides work together to open, close, and move your jaw from side to side, so once one side messes, up, the other simply cannot accommodate for the other.
Welcome to PRECiDENT
Your TMJ Specialists
At PRECiDENT, we have a team of TMJ specialists who are ready to help you find relief. We understand how the jaw joint works, which means you can be sure you’re getting an accurate diagnosis. You don’t have to worry about getting the right treatment because our TMJ specialists are on your side.