With such a large portion of the population not getting the right treatment for what are often debilitating disorders, there is an incredible need for dentists who understand the neuroanatomical relationship within the cranio-cervical area and how to diagnose common pain complaints in the head and neck. This is why it is important to work with physicians to treat craniofacial pain.
Treating craniofacial pain is a team effort, with the patient’s Dentist, ENT, Neurologist, Physiatrist, Physical Therapist, and Psychiatrist all potentially playing a role in diagnosis and treatment. A dentist must understand what physicians do in a diagnostic workup and treatment and when it’s necessary to refer out in order to truly understand their role and fulfill their duties in patient care and establish referral relationships across various physician specialties.
By learning how to diagnose and treat craniofacial pain, dentists gain a great power to change their patients’ lives. With great power comes great responsibility for the proper diagnosis and management of pain in and around the mouth, face and neck.
Create a working relationship
Many patients will find themselves in a neurological, primary care, chiropractic, pain management or an ENT’s office, but that may not always be the best place. For example, undiagnosed TMD may be mistaken for different ailments, as it can often stump many medical practitioners with the vast crossover of symptoms patients experience.
A patient might complain of TMJ pain, but in reality they are suffering from a disease or infection of the ear, nose or throat. It is also common for a patient to complain of ear pain, but have the pain really be related to an affected TMJ. When this occurs, patients might be in the wrong medical office seeking treatment, or the clinician is frustrated that their prescribed therapy based on symptoms has not helped in resolving a patient’s complaints.
Whether it is neurological or sinus related, you want your patients to get the best care available, and that means joining forces with other medical professionals. From neurologists and otolaryngologists to family practitioners, it is important to create a working relationship with each medical practitioner in order to discuss or refer for diagnosis and management of your patients when further assistance is needed.
Whether it is ear, dental or head related, a working relationship with the medical professionals in your community is essential in providing proper treatment for your patients! They will thank you in the end.