Dentists: TMJ & Jaw Pain Are Dental Problems, Reports The Wealthy Dentist
February 13, 2009 (PRLEAP.COM) Health NewsTMJ treatment is offered by four out of five dentists, found a survey by dental practice marketing resource The Wealthy Dentist. Only 22% of dentists refer TMJ/TMD patients to a specialist for help with joint pain.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) can become inflamed and cause jaw pain in TMJ disorder (TMD). Joint pain is one of the primary TMJ symptoms. The joint disorder can have a variety of causes, some of which remain mysterious. There is no universally accepted solution, but possible treatments include TMJ exercises, medication, splints or nightguards, even TMJ surgery.
Dentists reported charging anywhere from $500 to $40,000 for treatment. Of course, TMJ dentists offer a variety of services. "I only do occlusal splint therapy," said an Indiana dentist. "I treat with full-coverage splints or with NTI's," said a California dentist. "I offer combination TMJ/TMD and Orthodontic correction." offered a Missouri orthodontist, while a Nebraska dental hygienist said, "I am a registered orofacial myologist and also treat tongue thrust, oral habits and facial rejuvenation."
It's not clear how many people suffer from TMJ. "Over 50% of the adult population needs this treatment, and many will accept if presented properly," said Dr. Jerry Simon, a dentist and the author of Stop Headaches Now.
Like anything else, training is essential. "Docs who do not truly understand the field should take a lot of continuing dental education," advised an Illinois dentist. "TMJ treatment should be a recognized specialty by the ADA," offered an Arkansas dentist.
Of course, not all dentists offer TMJ treatment themselves. "I am so fortunate to be one block away from a TMJ specialist so I often refer my patients with TMD to him," said one Alabama dentist. Complained a Nevada periodontist, "The various treatment modalities are confusing, and many are not supported by credible research."
The cost of TMJ therapy doesn't always lead to much in the way of dentist profits. "It's a poor return for the time spent, but it's a great service to needy patients," said a Missouri dentist. An Arkansas dentist agreed, saying, "As rewarding as treating TMJ was emotionally, it was just as unrewarding, financially. Once they're out of pain, patients miraculously out of money!"
TMJ syndrome is often stress-related. "Treating lifestyle and stress are huge factors in successfully treating these people," said a North Carolina dentist.
Braces can sometimes help fix the problem. "It has been my experience that most TMJ/TMD patients have a functional occlussal problem that can be improved with orthodontic treatment," opined a Washington orthodontist. Warned a Nebraska orthodontist, "The patient must be nearly pain-free before definite orthodontic treatment is begun."
"TMD isn't just a 'phantom disorder,' and today's dentists don't see it as such," said Jim Du Molin, founder of dental marketing company The Wealthy Dentist. "It can lead to tremendous pain and discomfort. If only it was easier to fix!"
Learn more about The Wealthy Dentist's surveys in the areas of dental implants, cosmetic dentistry, dental insurance, TMJ, and braces. Jim Du Molin offers a free weekly newsletter and dental practice management advice.
Jim Du Molin