A peer-reviewed journal that offers evidence-based clinical information and continuing education for dentists.

Unlock the Mystery of TMJ Disorders

Charles Sutera, DMD, FAGD, shares his expertise on how dentists can make a difference in the treatment of temporomandibular jaw issues.


More than a third of Americans grapple with temporomandibular jaw (TMJ) disorders, leaving many in pain and without answers on how to fix these issues.

A nationally acclaimed dentist, Charles Sutera, DMD, FAGD, known for his expertise in complex issues of dental function and their treatment, shares his expertise with Decisions in Dentistry on how dentists can make a difference in this arena.

Root of the Issue

According to Dr. Sutera, the root of this prevalent issue may lie in the scope of dental education. “When you look at how dentists are traditionally trained, there’s a miraculous amount of very detailed information that needs to be covered in dental school. It’s a bit like studying the leaves of trees and understanding them down to the smallest molecule. Yet, it’s impossible to understand every aspect of the tree in quite the same detail during the same period of time. The same happens to dentists when studying the oral cavity.

“Dentists become incredible experts of the dentition and gingiva. We as dentists understand that the teeth impact the rest of the body, but the specifics of how the mandibular function affects several other structures of the head and neck can sometimes feel out of our scope. It’s not. In fact, dentists are the best equipped to handle these issues. It’s not that dentists are not able to treat TMJ issues, rather, it’s just foreign compared to traditional dental concepts.

“So the high prevalence of TMJ disorders is partly because the best providers to treat the condition don’t get enough education on the topic during their schooling. However, that leads us to a simple solution: more dentists need to embrace continuing education in functional dentistry after dental school.”

While TMJ problems plague many, effective treatment remains elusive for most. Dr. Sutera highlights two critical factors hindering proactive intervention:

  1. Patient reticence
  2. Practitioner awareness

“Patients often neglect to discuss head and neck pain with their dentists,” he notes, advocating for increased dialogue in dental consultations. Additionally, he underscores the importance of dentists’ awareness of accessible, efficacious treatment modalities.

Paradigm Shift

Addressing TMJ-related pain necessitates a paradigm shift in dental practice, one that can profoundly impact professional trajectory. Dr. Sutera asserts, “Understanding functional dentistry can catapult a dentist professionally,” urging colleagues to embrace a commitment to improvement. He outlines a simple yet transformative path to professional growth: education, equipment familiarization, and patient communication.

In fostering collaborative care for patients with TMJ, effective communication emerges as paramount. Dr. Sutera extols the virtues of interdisciplinary teamwork, emphasizing the interconnectedness of patient care across specialties. “Value for communication is a mark of a truly great dentist,” he affirms, advocating for holistic patient management that transcends disciplinary boundaries.

In the journey to combat TMJ disorders, dentists stand at the forefront of change, armed with knowledge, empathy, and a commitment to collaboration. As Dr. Sutera aptly summarizes, “It’s not just about treating teeth; it’s about transforming lives.”

Take Action

The philosophy of TMJ Relax is based on functional dentistry and will change the way you practice. The TMJ Education Masterclass provides 16 continuing education credits and 11 modules of course credit, covering a wide array of topics in two parts — the pillars of TMJ diagnosis and the pearls of TMJ treatment — all designed to improve patient care and loyalty, increase practice revenue, and generate new leads. n

TMJ Relax

From Decisions in Dentistry. March 2024; 10(2):26

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy