Patients with facial pain frequently consult physicians or dentists, or both, about their problems. Sometimes the diagnosis can be made easily, as in cases of obvious otitis, sinusitis, or dental abscess. Other conditions, however, can be considerably more difficult to identify or to manage. One such condition is the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain-dysfunction syndrome, which has been described extensively in the medical and dental literature over the past 40 years. Yet, a recent survey published in the Journal of the American Dental Association1 showed that many physicians and dentists still are either uninformed about the syndrome, or they are following outdated concepts of diagnosis and treatment for TMJ problems. In fact, a substantial number of practitioners in both professions did not even acknowledge the existence of a TMJ pain-dysfunction syndrome.
In the survey, which included a random group of physicians and a sampling of members of the American Association