Patient #1

Debbie Slater (name changed for privacy) is a 28 old female who was first seen for a symptom complex including bilateral TMJ pain, decreased oral opening, and clicking joints. Her problem began shortly after her car was rear-ended while she was stopped at an intersection. She had the immediate onset of head and neck pain. The jaw symptoms began within the first week off the accident. Her physician sent her to a dentist trained in the dental management of TMJ/TMD. She was fitted for a oral splint, in conjunction with medication, a written self-care program, soft diet, jaw exercises and physical therapy. She responded well to treatment. She had to wear the splint for 6 months. Over that time she had a gradual improvement in symptoms. After 6 months she was placed on a program to gradually decrease the number of hours she wore the splint daily. One year after the institution of splint therapy all symptoms had resolved. She has had no further problems with her temporomandibular joints.

Observation : This case illustrates the value of early diagnosis and treatment. Patients who have not been adequately treated in the early stages of their traumatic TMJ disorder often have a chronic problem that may be much more difficult to successfully treat.