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What Does a TMJ Doctor Do?

A person with TMJ.
OTC painkillers can help with jaw pain from TMJ.
A TMJ doctor specializes in orofacial issues.
Some TMJ patients may see a clinical specialist for treatment.
Article Details
  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 17 October 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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When a patient is talking about a “TMJ doctor,” he or she is probably referring to a doctor who is consulted on Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD). These doctors will often provide consultation through a specific kind of medical office dealing with similar conditions. A TMJ doctor is often a consulting doctor who specializes in “orofacial” or “craniofacial” issues.

Many TMJ doctors hold the qualification of DMD or Doctor of Medical Dentistry. As a result, many of them will also handle other kinds of dental issues. A TMJ doctor may participate in a dental practice that includes regular maintenance, restorative services, and more.

TMJ doctors are also specialists, and they may be working out of offices that are different from a traditional dentist’s office. Frequently, patients who get a referral from their “family dentist” to visit a specialist. The TMJ doctor may be in the office that a patient is referred to when he or she goes to a dentist and complains about jaw pain.

The studies of TMJ doctors and other similar professionals underscore the link between the physical construction of the head and neck, and the neurological function of the human body. A TMJ doctor has to know a lot about the upper region of the body and how different conditions can manifest in jaw or head pain. Some patients see a TMJ doctor as a clinical specialist, possibly involved in surgical procedures as well as consultation.

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Just like any other kind of dental practitioner, a TMJ doctor will need specific qualifications in order to practice. The DMD usually requires a four year undergraduate degree, along with specific medical training. Dentists also have to be licensed in a particular state in order to practice. All of this contributes to the overall skill and knowledge of orofacial specialists who may practice in a specific local area.

Along with TMJ doctors, other specialists like periodontists, orthodontists, and others may receive patients as referrals from a general family dental practice. These specialists help patients deal with more complex dental issues that don’t get solved during regular dental maintenance visits. Patients should inspect their insurance plans to figure out which TMJ doctors, and other specialists, are covered under their existing dental plan.

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