If there was ever a discipline in dentistry that is inconsistent and varied in the approached being taught around the country, it would be issues and treatment involved with TMJ (temporomandibular joint) or TMD (temporomandibular dysfunction or disorder).
I personally had some TMD issues and after graduating dental school realizing my degree did not fully cover TMJ issues, I sought out advice from the so called “gurus” about my case. I received four different answers which really perplexed me. Since I was learning about cosmetic dentistry and full mouth reconstruction and prosthetics, it was time for me to seek out more clear information involving TMJ since it is closely tied to the things I was already learning about. In order to do this, I had to seek out programs around the country and participate in study clubs all teaching from a different basis in order to really assess what was being taught and what worked.
What a journey this became! Lots of discussion about neck pain, headaches, jaw pain and airway issues . . . all of which then required more study in those arenas to put the knowledge together. This not only benefited my patients and the path of my career, but it also helped me with my own dental and TMJ problems. Thank goodness I spent the extra years and financial commitment to solve this mystery. Some of the options I was given by the so called gurus I sought out would have created irreversible damage to my teeth and jaw bones. I am now symptom free and have all my teeth with no problems for the past 15 years.
This experience and training has solidified my own skill set to help my patient base with their own unique dental or TMJ problems. Without TMJ training and other aspects of facial muscles related to dental and TMJ problems, providing the other disciplines of dentistry such as cosmetics, implants, prosthetics and full mouth rehabilitation cases would fall short of the long term success our clients expect.