We often get questions from people such as “Where can I get TMJ treatment in Ontario?” or “Are you a TMJ specialist?” These are more complicated questions than most people realize.
The short answer is that there is no field of medicine or dentistry which includes a TMJ specialist. TMJ (or, more appropriately, TMD) is a fairly complicated condition, and one which is not very well-understood. One could say that it straddles the line between being a medical and a dental disorder.
Understanding TMD and the Lack of A TMJ Specialist in Ontario
Temporomandibular Joint Disorders are often called “TMJ,” but the medical community prefers “TMD” instead. Broadly speaking, TMD covers just about any condition which causes pain or dysfunction in the joint and muscles which control jaw actions such as talking, chewing, or yawning. This is the temporomandibular joint, and it’s located right below the ears where the jawbone connects to the rest of the skull.
TMD can affect one side of the jaw, or both. It can be a temporary condition, or be a lifelong affliction. It can have a wide variety of symptoms, including:
- Pain or tenderness around the temporomandibular joint, particularly when opening the mouth wide. This pain could even extend down to the shoulders.
- Frequent popping or clicking sounds when moving the jaw around.
- “Lockjaw” situations where the mouth becomes stuck open or closed.
- A feeling that the teeth are not properly meeting when the mouth is closed, causing difficulty chewing, which is not related to orthodontics.
- A variety of other secondary symptoms, such as facial swelling, headaches, tinnitus, or a general feeling of one’s face being tired.
What Causes TMD?
This is the crux of the problem: Science doesn’t know what causes TMD. Individual cases of TMD can have many different causes and many different potential treatments. As such, treatment of TMD may be handled by a dentist, an oral surgeon, an Ear-Nose-Throat specialist, or even other types of doctors.
So that is why there’s no such thing as a “TMJ specialist” in Ontario. TMD is almost always treated on a case-by-case basis, with either doctors or dentists handling treatment -or referring to other practitioners- based on individual symptoms.
However, it is most common for someone suffering TMD to begin with their usual family dentist. So, while Dr. Moore cannot claim to be a TMJ specialist, we are often our patients’ first stop when they’re feeling symptoms of TMD.
Treating TMD At Dr. Christopher Moore & Associates
Whenever a patient comes to us complaining of TMD symptoms, we always do a full assessment of their joint function and the muscles involved. This often involves taking X-Rays or ordering an MRI scan, to see the temporomandibular joint in detail. From there, we can make several recommendations, based on the individual case, working closely with the patient to see the TMD resolved.