#60 “How Come No One Ever Told Me About this Before?” (Part 8)

This is the eighth in a series of articles designed to answer the most common question asked by our patients after years or even decades of suffering life altering TMD/TMJ symptoms.  We often hear, “How come no one ever told me about this before?”  This question is often mirrored by their statement, “The only thing I regret is not knowing about this device and protocol much sooner.”

This article will focus on the part patients play in not knowing about a real solution to this highly prevalent health care problem.

I am currently reading a book entitled “Uncaring, How the Culture of Medicine Kills Doctors and Patients” by Robert Pearl, MD.  Among his other credits Dr. Pearl is the former CEO of the Permanente Health Care Group, one the largest health care organizations in the country. In his book Dr Pearl describes the many contradictory features of our current health care system which lead to patients receiving non-optimal care and doctors not able to deliver the care they feel is best for patients.  Many good doctors are leaving the system because of their frustrations and most patients agree that our current system is becoming less workable.

How this affects patients with TMD/TMJ has been increasingly obvious to me for years.  Patients do not know what doctors know.  Patients are not expected to know what doctors know.  That is why doctors go to school for many years and eventually place their abbreviated credentials after their name.

Now, the internet has changed access to information.  This change has occurred rapidly and continues to change at an accelerated rate.  The internet has changed and continues to change the balance of power and knowledge, (Knowledge is Power) between doctors and patients.  Every bit of data, every medical article, every medical journal, is now available to every person on the planet.  Doctors no longer have privileged access to medical information.

Theoretically, patients can now be their own doctors if they take the time to read and understand the science and experience that supports various diagnoses and treatments. Fortunately, as retired Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, patients have not figured out a way to be their own surgeons.

Recently, I found more and more patients are taking the time to investigate their own ailments before presenting to the doctor for diagnosis and treatment.  This is a good thing.  I encourage patients to do this.  But it is a two- edged sword.  It cuts both ways.   On one hand, knowledge is power, and on the other hand one has to ask, is the information accurate, relevant, and truthful.  There is no way to know whether the information you have is relevant, accurate and truthful unless you see it for yourself, in real time, work as published, promoted, and described.  (If it’s true for you, it’s true because you have experienced it yourself.)  This applies to both doctors and patients. Doctors suffer from the same problem when they read or listen to medical information.  That is why we have peer reviewed medical journals to weed out biased or inaccurate medical information.  Even then, peer reviewed medical information does not guarantee accuracy, relevance, and truthfulness.

Most of the public is not aware of the facts just described.  Most patients arrive at the doctor’s office with symptoms or complaints and just say, “Fix me”.

I hope you see where I am headed in my thought process.

It is impossible for doctors and patients to know for sure what is accurate, relevant, and truthful unless they see it for themselves.  What is true for you is true.

TMD/TMJ has been one of those issues in medicine and dentistry fraught with bias, misinformation, confusion, lack of science, and outright smoke and mirrors.

The patient’s responsibility in answering the question of “How come no one ever told me about this before?” is to investigate their own medical problem and analyze the data and information to the point where it makes sense to them.  Then they can discuss it with their doctor and sort out any disagreements or misunderstandings leading to an agreed upon decision on what to do.  Patients must take more responsibility for their own care.

During a TMD/TMJ consultation, I and my associate make a point to carefully describe how using a small oral device and protocol, that unloads the TMJ like a set of crutches unloads a painful knee, addresses each of the patient’s symptoms, how it works, and exactly what is expected as it is used.  When we do this, one of two things will happen.  Some patients blurt out at some point, “That makes sense to me”.  If they don’t, I will ask, “Does that make sense to you?”  Almost always the answer is “Yes”.  If not, I know I did not explain it properly and continue the consultation until I get an honest answer of, “Now that makes sense.”

As a general rule in life, If it’s true for you its true.  If it makes sense to you then you should follow your common sense.  You are smarter than you think. Gather enough facts and information to decide for yourself and don’t necessarily rely on others to make your decisions.

If you think you may have TMD/TMJ and the symptoms are too much to bare, schedule a consultation and find out whether what we say at TMJ Services of Brentwood makes sense.