TMD – Should I see a doctor or a dentist?

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Treating temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) is a part of dentistry. Graduates from dental schools can opt, and many do, to continue their education and take courses in TMD examination practices, diagnosis, and treatment. General practitioners rarely venture down this path. So, dentists are the right medical professionals to see for your TMD treatment.

How Do Dentists Treat TMD or TMJ Disorder?

Usually, dentists start out with non-invasive, reversible methods “because more studies are needed on the safety and effectiveness of most treatments for jaw joint and muscle disorders,” according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. More aggressive treatments are used when the disorder becomes persistent.

Reversible, Non-invasive Treatment

Eating soft foods, applying ice packs on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), avoiding extreme jaw movements during yawing and singing, and practicing dentist-recommended jaw stretching and relaxing exercises are four examples of simple, conservative TMD treatment. Others treatments include:


For many people with TMD, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, may provide temporary relief from jaw discomfort. See your dentist if the pain persists, he or she can recommend stronger medications to ease symptoms. NOTE: Before taking any medications, you should consult with your doctor to ensure they are safe for you.

Oral Appliances

Dentists can recommend oral appliances, such as splints and bite guards, to stabilize upper and lower teeth. Oral appliances are normally used only for a short period because there is a risk associated with them; they can cause permanent changes in your bite.

Irreversible, Invasive Treatments

Your dentist may suggest surgery or implants if reversible treatments fail. Surgery or implants may become a necessity if your symptoms continue to regress over time. But the decision to undergo the knife should be taken only after you are aware of the risks involved. Your dentist shall be able to explain to you the reasons for suggesting an invasive treatment, its benefits and potential downsides. It is extremely important to find the right dentist, someone who puts your health above profits.

How to Find the Right Dentist for TMD Treatment?

The American Dental Association (ADA) offers five useful suggestions on how to find the right dentist:
1. Start out with asking your family, friends, neighbors, and workmates.
2. Ask your physician or local pharmacist.
3. Ask your current dentist if you are moving to a new place. He or she may be able to make a recommendation.
4. Speak to someone from your local or state dental societies. You will find them listed under “dentists” or “associations” in a telephone directory.
5. Use the ADA Member Directory to look up dentists in your area.

There is a good news for you if you find the ADA’s five-step procedure overwhelming and if you live in Noblesville, Indiana. You can book a complimentary consultation with our team of highly experienced and ADA-member dentists by calling us at (317) 208-0000. You can also email us, or leave a message here.

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