Why TMJ Can Go Undiagnosed for So Long

Boutique Dentistry for Nashville, Tennessee

Unfortunately, many people suffer with TMJ for decades before they finally get their accurate diagnosis. This means years of unnecessary suffering and, potentially, a worsening of the condition. If ignored for too long, the condition may not respond to conservative treatments and may require a surgical approach.

But how can TMJ go undiagnosed for so long? There are many reasons, including the fact that few professionals have the neuromuscular dentistry expertise of Dr. Kent E. White at the Center for Advanced Dentistry in Nashville.

People Ignore Symptoms

Proper diagnosis starts with people realizing that they have a problem. Unfortunately, this can be a difficult barrier to overcome for TMJ. That’s because people either don’t realize the severity of their symptoms or they don’t realize that the different symptoms are connected.

People sometimes ignore TMJ symptoms for far too long. Jaw popping and clicking can seem like a harmless symptom at first. People crack their knuckles regularly, and they may mistakenly believe this is the same thing. TMJ symptoms can often come and go in the early stages of the disorder, so people don’t think they have a serious problem. Other symptoms people might not notice–such as tooth wear–until it progresses significantly.

The other problem with TMJ symptoms is that they may not realize that their different symptoms are connected. They may go to their doctor about one particular symptom, such as vertigo or ringing in the ears, but not realize that their headaches or jaw pain are connected, so they don’t mention them. Not knowing the full range of symptoms makes it very hard for doctors or dentists to diagnose the condition.

Many Doctors Don’t Understand Condition

Unfortunately, doctors, especially general practitioners, often have a very poor understanding of TMJ. Even if told the symptoms a person is experiencing, they may not put them together for a diagnosis of TMJ.

They may not have a complete sense of TMJ, may not know the prevalence of the condition or that there are actual objective measurements that can measure the condition and give a precise diagnosis. Doctors may even dismiss the condition because they are more likely to dismiss women’s pain, and women are more likely to report TMJ.

This means that people who talk to their doctor about TMJ may go for years without having their condition properly diagnosed.

Most Dentists Can’t Diagnose It

If you go to your dentist and complain about the symptoms, they may be at a loss to explain what you’re experiencing. They may perform some of the basic assessments of your jaw joint and muscles, including muscle palpitations and asking about your medical history. But, ultimately, most dentists lack the equipment and expertise to properly diagnose and treat TMJ. People who go to dentists who don’t have this expertise may go for years with their symptoms undiagnosed.

See a TMJ Expert

If you are dealing with TMJ in Nashville, there’s no reason to suffer. Neuromuscular dentist Dr. White can perform a scientific assessment of your jaw joints and muscles to develop a comprehensive, accurate diagnosis that can serve as a guide for successful treatment.

Please call (615) 383-6787 today for an appointment with Dr. White at the Center for Advanced Dentistry.