Who treats TMJ?

Who treats TMJ?

About temporomandibular joint (TMJ) “specialists” and experts

We can’t make a diagnosis without seeing you!

  • Before you ask a question in the comments at the bottom of the pages to ask us who to consult or what treatment is indicated for a temporomandibular disorder (TMD) it is important to realize that these problems are very complex to diagnose and to treat, and that it is difficult, if not impossible, to diagnose or offer treatment plans from a simple written description of the problem, which is not the purpose of this site.
  • The diagnosis of jaw joint problems requires a clinical examination, diagnostic imaging (x-rays, cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), etc.) and sometimes other tests and assessments by various specialists (blood tests, etc.).
  • People regularly ask us who is in the best position to help them solve various TMJ problems because it is often difficult to find a practitioner who has the necessary knowledge, experience, and desire to treat TMD patients. Others report consulting “TMJ specialists” who promised them unrealistic results.

Not a specialty

TMD treatment is not an ‘official’ specialty of medicine, dentistry or any other area of health. There are however several dentists, orthodontists, and physiotherapists who have developed a special expertise in TMJ disorder treatments and are successful at them. Due to the large volume of patients that they are following, these clinicians end up “specializing” indirectly in these treatments by focusing their practice and devoting a large amount of time to this area of dentistry. Some go as far as to “limit” their clinical practice to TMJ problems. However, they can’t claim that they are TMJ “specialists”. Some could be described as TMJ experts as they have developed significant expertise, but cannot be considered “specialists” because no professional order recognizes this area of dentistry as an official specialty.

To find a person qualified in TMD treatments, your best bet is to ask your dentist. Maybe he or she can refer you to the right practitioner.

Need advice?

It is not easy to find qualified practitioners in the field of TMJ treatments because it is not an “exact science”. Very few are interested in this area or have the necessary skills and expertise to provide these treatments. Although it is now recognized that there is not necessarily a direct link between the occlusion (or malocclusion) and TMD disorders, an assessment of your bite and masticatory function would probably be indicated.

If not already done, consult an orthodontist or a dentist who treats these dysfunctions or can refer you to other practitioners.

Interdisciplinary approach

Many people may be involved in the treatment and follow-up of TMJ problems. The interdisciplinary team may include a practitioner from the following areas:

  • Dental: general dentist, orthodontist, and maxillofacial surgeon, etc.
  • Medical: doctor, rheumatologist, neurologist, ENT, surgeon, etc.
  • Paramedical: psychologist, chiropractor, kinesiologist, physiotherapist, osteopath, etc.

It is important that the caregivers work together and communicate with each other to share information in order to maximize the success of the therapies.

It is unlikely that only one therapy would be THE solution to all problems or THE answer to all questions. TMD treatments are fairly complex.

A complex problem

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Temporomandibular joint problems are difficult to diagnose because they involve several variables. The treatment often requires interdisciplinary interventions from different health care providers.

Analogy with an orchestra

TMD treatments could be compared to orchestra conducting. Ideally, there must be a practitioner in charge of the patient (who acts as a “conductor”). With the collaboration of other healthcare providers (the musicians of the orchestra), they all work in harmony on a common treatment plan (piece of music) by allowing the TMD treatment orchestration.

What are the guarantees?

A short answer: There is no guarantee.

No technique, method, approach, philosophy, medicine, therapy, prayer, surgery, manipulation, pill, device, technology, specialist, can “guarantee” the improvement or elimination of symptoms related to TMD, whatever they may be. The causes of these problems are multiple, variable and sometimes unknown. Because we cannot control all of the factors affecting the temporomandibular joints, it is impossible to guarantee any improvement.

Even in Europe

For our European “cousins” who regularly write on this site to ask us questions, it is important to note that, to our knowledge, the same ‘legislation’ and certification of specialties exist there, even if there are different areas of practice in Europe.

Thus, stomatologists, occlusodontists, posturologists, denturists, doctors, surgeons as well as other recognized practitioners in some countries, are no TMJ specialists because… There is not such a thing as a TMJ specialist.

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