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Talking to Your Doctor About Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)

You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your dentist or doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with TMD. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write out your questions ahead of time so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.
  • How would I know if my symptoms are due to TMD?
  • Is TMD permanent or can it be cured/improved?
  • What are risk factors that might make me prone to TMD?
  • Is my bite abnormal?
  • Could any facial or dental abnormalities be exacerbating my TMD?
  • What kinds of treatment can I use to improve my TMD symptoms?
  • Are there self-care measures I can use?
  • Are there medications I can take to ease my discomfort?
    • What types should I use?
    • For what length of time should I use them?
    • Might they interact with any other medications or supplements I’m using?
  • Should I be using a mouth appliance to help me stop grinding my teeth and/or clenching my jaw?
  • Should I talk with my dentist about fitting a mouth plate or night guard?
  • Is surgery ever appropriate?
  • What types of symptoms might make surgery an option?
  • What research is there that shows surgery to be of benefit in TMD?
  • Are there any complementary or alternative treatments for TMD?
  • How can I learn to effectively handle stress in my life?
  • How can I break my jaw clenching habit?
  • Are there other things I can do to lower my stress level?
  • Does TMD progress, or can it be stopped with appropriate treatment?
  • What complications could I suffer if I’m unable to stop its progression?

Revision Information

  • Siccoli MM, Bassetti CL, Sándor PS. Facial pain: a clinical differential diagnosis. Lancet Neurology. 2006;5(3):257-267.

  • Temporomandibular disorders. American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.aaoms.org/images/uploads/pdfs/tmj%5Fdisorders.pdf. Published 2013. Accessed February 22, 2017.

  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114703/Temporomandibular-joint-TMJ-dysfunction. Updated May 11, 2015. Accessed February 22, 2017.

  • TMJ. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/content/tmj. Updated December 2010. Accessed February 22, 2017.

  • TMJ. Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association website. Available at: http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/t/tmj. Accessed February 22, 2017.

  • TMJ (temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders). National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website. Available at: https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/oralhealth/Topics/TMJ/TMJDisorders.htm. Updated April 2015. Accessed February 22, 2017.