Most Dentists Treat TMD and TMJ

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TMJ disorder
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Four out of five dentists in this survey report that they treat TMJ/TMD patients. The remainder refer them out to a specialist.

Dentists reported charging anywhere from $500 to $40,000 for treatment. Of course, there are a wide variety of treatment options available, and each method has its own price tag.

“Emotionally rewarding, but financially unrewarding. Once patients are out of pain, they’re miraculously out of money!" complained one dentist.

Send them to a specialist

  • “I refer them out to a prosthodontist.” (Illinois dentist)
  • “I am so fortunate to be one block away from a TMJ specialist so I often refer my patients with TMD to him!!” (Alabama dentist)

What dentists offer

  • “Treatment in our office is limited to splint therapy, then correcting occlusion if necessary.” (Oregon dentist)
  • “I am a registered orofacial myologist and also treat tongue thrust, oral habits and facial rejuvenation” (Nebraska dental hygienist)
  • “For TMD, I offer splint or NTI therapy.” (Texas dentist)
  • “I only do occlusal splint therapy,” (Indiana dentist)
  • "I do neuromuscular treatment and have seen amazing results.” (Texas dentist)
  • “I treat with full-coverage splints or with NTI's. Fees vary from $300-$1000.” (California dentist)
  • “I offer combination TMJ/TMD and orthodontic correction.” (Missouri orthodontist)

How long it takes

  • "Conservative appliance therapy takes about 6 months.” (Arkansas dentist)
  • “My fee does not include the final phase, since it varies so much whether there is ortho, restorative and/or recontouring involved.” (Nebraska dentist)

Lots of satisfaction but little money

  • “I treated these patients successfully for years. However, as rewarding as it was emotionally, it was just as unrewarding, financially. Once they're out of pain, they're miraculously out of money! Insurance won't pay, and Internet articles advise against treatment. It can really be a nightmare!" (Arkansas dentist)
  • “Poor return for time spent, but a great service to needy patients.” (Missouri dentist)

Many suffer from TMJ

  • "Over 50% of the adult population needs this treatment, and many will accept if presented properly. Every dentist should read my book, Stop Headaches Now." (Dr. Jerry Simon, Connecticut dentist)

Don't overlook ortho

  • “Patient must be nearly pain-free before definite orthodontic treatment is begun.” (Nebraska orthodontist)
  • “It has been my experience that most TMJ/TMD patients have a functional occlussal problem that can be improved with orthodontic treatment. Consequently, after correcting symptoms with splint therapy, I would treat patients orthodontically to an ideal functional occlusion. Only in the very severe cases would I need to provide them with a splint which would also serve as a retainer. The challenge is that this type of treatment does not fit in well with the flow of my orthodontic practice, and my practice became a magnet for difficult TMJ patients. I currently forward more of these cases to a TMJ specialist.” (Washington orthodontist)

How much it costs

  • "$1200 of the total fee is for exam and radiographs.” (Arkansas dentist)
  • “It's impossible to state just one fee. My range is $500-2,000.” (General dentist)
  • “Costs vary depending no time and number of visits.” (Washington dentist)
  • “Due to the excessive costs for TMJ treatment by colleagues, I feel I have to provide some affordable treatment options to these patients.” (Florida dentist)

Lifestyle and stress

  • “Treating lifestyle and stress are huge factors in successfully treating these people." (North Carolina dentist)
  • “Treatment of TMJ problems must revolve around an elucidation of causative factors, not just amelioration of symptomatic displays.” (General dentist)

It takes training

  • “It is important to understand the diagnosis before treatment and develop a 'flow chart' of treatment so you do not get into a circle of no results. Fortunately, most patients are myofacial pain patients, not internal derangement problems, and therefore respond to lots of different treatment procedures. But you have to know when something is not working and what to do next.” (Connecticut dentist)
  • “TMJ treatment should be a recognized specialty by the ADA.” (Arkansas dentist)
  • “You have to know what you are doing. One must be able use MRI and CT scans, drugs and splint therapy.” (Maryland dentist)
  • “Docs who do not truly understand the field should take a lot of continuing dental ed. Amazing how little some know about the field, but that does not stop them from attempting treatment.” (Illinois dentist)

Things are confusing

  • “The various treatment modalities are confusing, and many are not supported by credible research.” (Nevada periodontist)
  • "It is a shame dentists do not, in general, take a deeper interest in treating TMD. We all treat the bacterial issue, but very few treat the mechanics. All dentists should read chapter 1 of Pete Dawson's first book (the tan one). Hopefully dentists might notice how we are failing to properly diagnose and treat our patients.” (Colorado dentist)


Note: Survey sample included 115 respondents.

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