If you’re experiencing jaw pain, muscle pain, headaches, or any other signs of temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ), you surely want to find a quick and thorough resolution to your problem. But it’s important to do your research and find the right TMJ specialist to meet your needs. Keep reading for 3 tips on how to choose the right TMJ specialist for you.

1. Check Certifications

Unfortunately, there is no regulated body for treating TMJ. This means dentists and orthodontists can say they treat TMJ without having vast experience on the subject. Make sure you’re truly getting a specialist by asking what courses they’ve taken relating to TMJ and how long they’ve been treating cases similar to yours. There are several different philosophies on TMJ treatment. Some of these philosophies even conflict with one another. It is best to choose a specialist that is nondenominational with experience and understanding in all the different TMJ philosophies. Each patient has a unique circumstance which cannot be treated with a cookie cutter type of treatment. The treatment and sequence of treatment that is recommended for one patient, may not be successful for another patient. It is important your specialist evaluate your history, symptoms, and anatomy very thoroughly and develop a customized treatment plan. We recommend seeking a TMJ specialist that has a combination of credentials. Ideally seek a provider who has done training at not just one, but multiple of the acclaimed TMJ training programs such as a residency level TMJ program at a university, Pankey Institute, Dawson Institute, Spears Institute, and the Las Vegas Institute.

2. Read Online Reviews

Online reviews are always a good source for finding a provider, and it’s no different when you’re seeking a TMJ specialist. Look for a dentist who has a wide variety of reviews. You want them to be mostly positive, but there should be some less-than-perfect reviews sprinkled in there too so you know the reviews are real.

3. Learn Treatment Options

Typically TMJ treatment involves improving the harmony between the position of the teeth, the temporomandibular joint, and the muscles of the jaw. Sometimes TMJ symptoms and jaw pain can be relieved by simply wearing a custom balanced occlusal orthotic. Sometimes it may be best to gently adjust the teeth to reduce an unbalanced bite that may be causing jaw grinding or bruxism. Other times, it may be best to first consider orthodontics to improve the jaw and teeth position. Depending on your situation, TMJ treatment may be completed in one simple phase, but for more complex treatments your TMJ specialist may suggest 2 to 3 phases each which are necessary to incrementally improve the symptoms. Ask questions to get familiar with the treatment plan when consulting with a specialist. Find out how long the treatment will take, how much it will cost, and what methods will be used. Ask what the goal of the treatment is and do research to learn about any risks involved. Most importantly, make sure you feel comfortable and confident in the TMJ specialist prior to proceeding with treatment.

Find a TMJ specialist you feel comfortable with today. Aesthetic Smile Reconstruction is a nationally leading practice located in the Boston metro area (Waltham, MA). Contact us today at our office for any help you need. We’re eager to answer any questions you may have and get you the long-lasting relief you deserve.

Overcome needle phobia at the dentist: Putting it all together

So there you have it. The above techniques all help to overtime reduce the fear of needles. I know it’s easier said than done, but the best technique to overcome any phobia is to begin trying. The good news is a study in 2004 showed that needle phobia is inversely related to age. By beginning to develop more positive experiences with the use of the above techniques, you will desensitize yourself to your fear and your fear of needles will begin to evaporate.

After treating thousands of some of the most dental phobic patients in the country, I know that every patient feels their fear is the worst, and they feel their fear is unbreakable. However, over time, we slowly build trust and establish several positive experiences to override even the most extreme phobias. It’s worked for others, and I have faith it will work for you. All you need to do is commit to overcoming the fear and take one step at a time. Contact us today and discover how we can help you overcome any fear of needles.

Aesthetic Smile Reconstruction is a reconstructive and sedation dentist in the Boston Metro area. We treat patients from all over the country with the most complex fears and conditions. Dr. Charles Sutera is a national leader in smile makeovers with a particular focus on treating severely anxious and dental phobic patients. His practice is recognized as treating some of the most complex cases on the east coast due to renowned expertise in aesthetic dental reconstruction, TMJ function, and board certification in several types of dental sedation.

Bad Previous Dental Experiences

And so you have it. The most common cause of dental anxiety is one or more dental experiences that were negative. Most people don’t fear the dentist that has only had wonderful dental experiences. It’s that one dental experience that you never forget that begins to engrain the fear over time, and you enter all future dental experiences with an armor, shield, and wall around you…whether it’s warranted or not. Anyone who has had pain or discomfort during previous dental procedures is likely to be more anxious the next time around.

There are a few common things that happen when a patient is fearful of the dentist. If you experience any of the below…begin by talking with your dentist. They should listen and help to understand what you need to make your experience pain-free. Some common occurrences with dental anxiety are:

  • Trouble sleeping the night before a dental visit/appointment
  • The temptation to cancel your dental appointment a few days before
  • Feelings of nervousness which escalates while at the dental office waiting room
  • Crying or feeling physically ill when at the dentist
  • Intense uneasiness at the thought of, or actually when, objects are placed in your mouth during the dental treatment or suddenly feeling like it is difficult to breathe
  • Fear of gagging

IV Sedation and Sedation Dentistry

In some cases, an individual may benefit from a dentist who understands dental anxiety very well. These dentists, called sedation dentists, see anxious patients all day long. A sedation dentist will focus on scheduling a longer consultation to learn not only about your clinical conditions, but also who you are, your background, and any fears you have. You will develop a strong rapport with the sedation dentist before any treatment is done.

A sedation dentist will also have advanced comfort items such as a coffee or water, soothing spa-like amenities, hot-towels, warm blankets, cinema-style TVs with noise-canceling headphones, and extra team member is dedicated to your comfort. At a sedation dental practice, there are additional levels of local anesthesia, oral sedation, and IV sedation where you can actually sleep through your treatment. A patient undergoing dental sedation will be able to complete their treatment comfortably and efficiently in fewer appointments.

Dental sedation and sleep dentistry with an experienced sedation dentist is also incredibly safe. The patient is always breathing on their own control, and the medications used are completely reversible. Most patients find that as they build trust with their sedation dentist they eventually no longer require sedation for their future dental treatment.

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