Are you feeling pain in or around your jaw? Do you have neck pain or headaches? If you’re having any signs of TMJ Disorders, you need to find a TMJ specialist ASAP.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD) can cause severe pain and discomfort in the jaw joints. These joints, located on both sides of your face, allow you to open your mouth to talk, eat, and chew.
When you have TMJ Disorders you may start feeling pain in this area, clicking sounds in your ears or the sensation that your jaw is stuck. With women being more affected than men, TMJ problems affect around 15% of people in America today.
So for anyone having TMJ syndrome, here are a few tips for choosing the right TMJ SPECIALIST.
#1: FIND A WELL-TRAINED TMJ SPECIALIST
Finding the right TMJ dentist is the first step to relieve your pain, and get your jaws back to normal function. Only a highly-trained specialist will guarantee a successful treatment.
It’s important to know that your TMJ dentist will be dealing with symptoms such as jaw pain, stiffness on your neck muscles, difficulty opening your mouth, and a bite that doesn’t work properly.
These issues can be effectively treated if your TMJ dentist knows exactly how to proceed.
So try to find a TMJ specialist with expertise and training. Ask about certifications and academic training. It is suggested that your dentist is a member of the ADA, which usually equates to ongoing training.
Similarly, Pankey training gives dentists advanced preparation in diagnosis and treatment. They also have adequate teaching in relation to bite guards and bite adjustments (both main aspects when treating TMJ pain).
Most important of all, do not undergo any surgery or major treatment (that involves changing your bite) if you’re not sure you’re dealing with a trustworthy specialist.
# 2: A COMPREHENSIVE EXAM IS ESSENTIAL BEFORE DESIGNING YOUR TREATMENT PLAN
Treating TMD professionally and effectively will always need a full checkup of your oral health first. A skilled TMJ specialist knows a comprehensive exam is the first step in any dental treatment, whether you’re dealing with TMJ Disorders or with a simple cleaning.
Keep in mind that a thorough exam can last up to 1.5 hours.
This comprehensive exam will let your doctor study every issue in your mouth. They will check your teeth, your gums and tissues, and of course, your bite and joints.
So before setting up any treatment plan for you, make sure your TMJ specialist can see the full picture of how your mouth, jaw, and bite are working.
#3: HOW WILL YOUR TMJ SPECIALIST DIAGNOSE YOUR PAIN?
Your TMJ specialist should start by listening to your story or, in other words, by history taking. First, he or she will listen to everything you have to say relating to your jaw pain and concerns. Next, the exam might go on with muscle and jaw examination.
These procedures include a series of palpations and exercises to check the way your jaw and joints are working.
Your TMJ doctor may use other tools in the diagnostic process. The Tekscan and the low-cost deprogrammer are critical tools to diagnose if your pain is TMJ-related. These tools will help identify bite pressure and reduce strain on your jaws to accommodate your bite.
#4: WHAT WILL THE TMJ SPECIALIST DO TO RELIEVE YOUR PAIN OR ALIGN YOUR JAW?
Make sure your TMJ specialist can explain what the treatment exactly involves.
Most TMJ pain comes from muscle-related problems, so your treatment can include a combination of muscle relaxers, bite guard, physical therapy, bite splint and bite adjustment.
Since only 3% of TMJ pain is related to intra-articular pain, try to avoid surgical procedures unless you are sure all the other methods are not enough to solve your problem in the long run.
Surgical intervention should only be an option for extreme cases.
#5: ASK ABOUT HOME-TREATMENT
Ask your TMJ doctor about home-treatment to help reduce your pain and align your jaw. At home you can probably:
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers (if your doctor agrees)
- Use cold packs to reduce a swollen area
- Use moist heat to help relax your muscles
- Do exercises to improve jaw motion
- Eat soft foods for some time to avoid pressure on your jaws.
These complementary actions, together with your in-office treatment can help tackle your problem in a shorter period of time.
#6: FIND A BALANCE BETWEEN HEALTH BENEFITS AND SERVICE COSTS
When choosing a TMJ specialist, you must consider skill and professionalism, not just a cheap treatment. That is, don’t choose your TMJ dentist on the basis of low-cost treatments alone.
Remember you may end up paying more in the long term if you see someone who does not do the right job. It’s always better to consider long-term payoff in matters of dental care.
Plus, ask everything about costs and payment options before you start your treatment. This way you will know exactly how much you will be paying out of pocket, and how much money your insurance company can reimburse. These questions are a must before or during your first visit:
- What is the cost of the treatment?
- Do you charge per visit or once the treatment is finished?
- Do you take my insurance?
- How can I know if my insurance will cover my treatment?
- Does the office work in-network or out- of- network?
- How will the office staff help me maximize my insurance benefits and coverage?
While it is important to choose a skilled professional rather than a cheap one, it’s also essential to ask everything about payment options and insurance benefits. You obviously want to make the most out of the health plan you‘re paying for.
If paying for treatment becomes an issue, most dental professionals offer no-interest financing options such as Care Credit.
#7: DO SOME ONLINE RESEARCH: READ REVIEWS AND PATIENTS’ STORIES
It’s part of people’s nature to share their experiences with others. Especially, when they feel we can help others. This holds true in the field of dentistry too: When people have a good experience, they generally want to share it with others. They will also share a bad experience. In fact, this will simply spread faster than light. So, when finding a TMJ specialist near you, try to look for online local reviews and testimonials. Many people who have gone under TMJ treatment want to share their experience. Today you can find lots of opinions and testimonials online which can help you evaluate what the best options in your area are.