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by Clayton A. Chan, D.D.S.

Every dentist has different abilities and skills. Each have strengths and also weaknesses. Some are academics while others are clinicians. Some do ortho and others do not. Some understand how to do surgeries and others prefer not. Some have an interest to cut and modify your teeth and or do full mouth rehabs while others may not. Some are detailed and others are not. Some are quick operators and others are not. Some see many patients in a given day, while others do not. Some are focused on TMD while others just dabble in the subject amongst other things they do. Some like to measure and use instrumentation to track jaw positioning of their patients and measure muscle activity as part of their diagnosis while others may not. Some dentists prefer taking a medical approach to your care while other dentists take a dental approach to TMD and pain care. Some prescribe pharmaceutical meds Rx while others may not, some have a psychosocial perspective while others maybe of a bio-physologic perspective. Some are gnathologic in understanding and training while others maybe neuro-muscular oriented in the training and emphasis. Some dentists believe in occlusion and its importance and some don’t, while others focus on TM joints instead. Some believe in managing pain stressors and emotional factors while other focus on structural and postural alignment issues to muscular pains. Some focus on CNS issues while others may focus on musculature, myofunctional, tongue, etc. imbalance issues….some more than others. Some even focus on injection and botox methods, etc while others may not…PT or massage, chiropractic or accupunture therapies…. as one can see the list is endless…there is something for everyone…dentists all have different interests and reasons why they believe, do and provide what they offer for various reasons. Get to know those specific reasons. What makes a dentist tick?

Finding a dentist and ask them why they do what they do…and for what reason they provide those particular services as care givers. What is the dentists philosophy toward health – 1) Muscular, 2) Psychological and or 3) Occlusal or whatever combination of the above? Every TMDer must have a clue as to what you personally believe in regards to your own health philosophy. Go with your instincts, your intuitions, based on your past and present experiences. Every dentist wants to treat you…but the questions is…. are they qualified, skilled, trained, experience, have knowledge and able? Those are big questions…and at what price? EDUCATE YOURSELF and LEARN All patients are qualified to educate themselves and determine which philosophy and or approach is best for themselves. Once one determines which philosophy and approach they believe they then can can zero in and determine which doctors within the philosophy is best for them. A governing body that sets best practices and standards is only as strong as the weakest link in that process of governing and setting standards, as to what that governing body understands, believes and practices themselves. At present the governing bodies (committee of dental and medical professional) don’t always practice TMD on a daily bases. DETERMINE YOUR OWN VALUES and BELIEFS First you have to figure out what are your own values and belief’ are.

  1. Are you a person that believes medical medication approach and emotional stress philosophy will help and resolve your TMD issues and meet your needs? Yes, or No?
  2. or Do you believe your TMD issue is a muscular issue effecting the anxiety and stress or not? Yes, or No?
  3. or Do you believe your bite or occlusion (how your teeth come together) has anything to do with how your muscles and joints are functioning that causes muscle strains and CNS stresses? Yes or No?

That is where one may first start in figuring this huge TMD maze of philosophy and treatment options and the differences in TMD doctors thinking and approaches…this is foundational and very important to understand. Read the following link to learn how to zero your understanding and philosophy down as to a philosophy and type of TMD dentist that is best for you.

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