How Accurate Are Dental Websites When It Comes to TMJ?

We thank Karen Raphael, Ph.D., New York University College of Dentistry for providing us with this written summary.   

In their review of over 250 dental practice websites sampled throughout the U.S., the authors found that nearly two-thirds represented general dentists who nevertheless advertised themselves as “TMJ specialists.”  Even more frustrating was that the information posted on these websites was often incorrect. Regular readers of TMJ News Bites and the TMJA website undoubtedly know that so-called TMD or TMJ problems consist of a complex set of genetic and biopsychosocially mediated causes, but many websites referred to these problems as if they were a single disorder with a single cause. Over two-thirds of the websites referred to ‘bad bite,’ ‘malocclusion’ or similar terms, implying that occlusal problems were the cause of TMJ. This ignores a long-standing body of research rejecting old theories of occlusion; that is, a belief that the way that the upper and lower teeth meet when biting down causes TMJ problems. More than half of the websites recommended treating the so-called occlusal problem to relieve TMJ symptoms. In point of fact, such treatments are not supported by research, and have been strongly condemned by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. These findings emphasize the danger posed to patients by trying to learn about TMJ or any health condition by relying on website information posted by practitioners. In light of trends found in this new article, the research-informed information provided by The TMJ Association becomes more than essential in order to fight web-based marketing ploys filled with outdated and blatantly wrong information about the cause and appropriate, safe care of TMJ problems.

* Desai B, Alkandari N, Laskin DM, How Accurate Is Information AboutDiagnosis and Management Of Temporomandibular Disorders On Dentist Websites?, Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology and Oral Radiology (2016), doi: 10.1016/j.oooo.2016.04.014.

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