How accurate is information about diagnosis and management of temporomandibular disorders on dentist websites?

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Abstract

Objective.

The purpose of this study was to determine the accuracy of information provided on websites of dental practices about the diagnosis and management temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) because patients often use the Internet to get information about their condition and to seek a practitioner for treatment.

Study Design.

A web search was done to identify the types of dental providers who advertise themselves on the Internet as “specialists” in the management of TMDs. Issues that were analyzed included their classification of these disorders, the presumed etiology of such problems, and the types of treatment offered.

Results.

Over two-thirds of the 255 dental providers identified who advertised management of TMDs on their websites were general dentists. TMDs were attributed to occlusal problems or malocclusion on 66.7% of the websites and were labeled as a single disorder rather than a group of disorders on 38.8% of the websites. Recommendations to treat occlusal problems or malocclusion to alleviate TMDs were made by 54.5% of the providers.

Conclusions.

Since these findings are not in line with current concepts about TMDs, significant inaccuracies exist with regard to the diagnosis and management of TMDs on dental practice websites. Therefore, patients need to be concerned about the dentists they may select to get their treatment, and practitioners need to be prepared to deal with the issues raised by misinformed patients.

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