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The Detection and Management of Temporomandibular Disorders in Primary Dental Care

Course Number: 395


Most temporomandibular disorders (TMD) respond well to the general dentist's therapy, and self-management is one of the initial therapies they commonly provide.1 TMD self-management instructions encompasses very cost-effective procedures patients can perform for themselves to manage their symptoms. They are convenient and inexpensive, compared with patients going to practitioners’ offices to receive therapy. Patients generally select and use the portions that they personally find most convenient and effective. Occlusal appliance therapy, behavioral therapy, and/or medications can provide additional benefit and can be provided in combination with the self-management or added later if the patient does not obtain satisfactory improvement from the initial therapy.

Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD) are a set of common musculoskeletal conditions of the masticatory system for which 3.6 to 7.0% of the general population desire treatment.2 Females in their childbearing years are more likely to seek treatment for TMD symptoms.3 Some patients with TMD may only have a single episode, while others may experience TMD with recurring episodes or even constant pain. For a significant minority of individuals, TMD is chronic and persistent.

Over the years this condition has been known by many names, including temporomandibular joint (TMJ), TMJ syndrome, craniofacial pain and others. The most commonly accepted name is TMD.2 This course provides dentists, dental assistants, and dental hygienists with information about TMD, suggested patient symptom history questions, clinical examination criteria, common TMD treatments, and methods for helping patients self-manage their TMD pain and symptoms under the guidance of the dental professional.