Should I See a Doctor or Dentist?

A dentist is a doctor (the DDS means Doctor of Dental Surgery; the DMD connotes Doctor of Dental Medicine), and like a PhD or an MD, the DDS and DMD are doctorate degrees.

Like a medical doctor (the MD), a dentist can diagnose problems, write and fill prescriptions and provide primary care services. But unlike an MD, the dentist deals pretty much only with conditions and diseases of the head, neck and oral cavity (the teeth and mouth).

Yet there may be times when it’s better for you to see a physician instead of a dentist. Or, your dentist may treat you and recommend that you also see a physician for additional or different treatment of your condition.

Read below different scenarios regarding when to see a dentist and when to see a physician:

  1. If you’re an adult have such health issues as being born prematurely, you have diabetes, you had a stroke, or you have heart disease, you’ll definitely want to report and discuss any oral health issues with your physician as well as your dentist.
  2. Many people who don’t have dental insurance will visit a physician when they have oral health issues. This is understandable because many dentists don’t accept Medicaid insurance and others won’t treat the uninsured. (Many patients, however, do pay for their dental care out of pocket, saving an amount each year they estimate they will need for twice-yearly checkups, possible cavity fillings and emergencies.)
  3. If you have trouble chewing or swallowing. If you’re experiencing jaw pain that’s not decreasing (and especially if it’s increasing). If you have mouth sores that aren’t healing after two weeks, you may think a visit to your family doctor is in order, but you should see your dentist instead.

  1. If you suffer from Temporomandibular Joint (the TMJ) and the muscle disorder that can affect it (known as TMD), you probably have trouble chewing and have pain in your jaw (the TMJ is the joint where your lower jaw muscle connects to your skull). You may not be able to open your mouth very wide. When symptoms first appear you may want to visit a doctor to rule out any other disorders that have similar symptoms. If you do have TMJ, you can choose to stay with the physician or you can work with a dentist. While there is no certification for the treatment of TMJ in either the medical or dental fields, it’s important nevertheless to choose a dental or medical professional who understands musculoskeletal disorders (these are conditions that affect the joints, bone and muscles) and who also is trained in treating pain and dealing with patients experiencing chronic pain.

Plano dentist Dr. Darren Dickson is experienced and successful in treating patients with TMD. If you’d like to schedule a consultation with him, call our office by phone to schedule an appointment or send us an e-mail message at [email protected].

Image courtesy of patrisyu/

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