The Concept of “Complete Dentistry” is based on the principles taught by Dr. Peter Dawson, which entail the complete understanding of the masticatory system. The joints (TMJ), muscles (Mastication), and teeth (Occlusion) all work together in harmony. Many of our patients often experience discord within their masticatory system. When this occurs, we usually expect to see signs of instability. The complete examination is the key to gathering or co-diagnosing conditions pertaining to the masticatory system. As part of the co-diagnosis, a screening history can be very beneficial in formulating the right diagnosis.
There are two opportunities to complete a screening history. The first is prior to the complete examination during the new patient interview. The second opportunity is during the actual complete examination. The right questions will open the dialogue for clues that will help assess the present condition(s), and whether a problem may be related to the TMJ and/or Muscles.
As part of the examination, the Dawson Academy recommends the following questions as part of the screening process:
Have you ever had or been diagnosed with a problem with either jaw joint?
Does your jaw joint click, pop, or make noise when you open or close?
Do you have pain or tenderness in your jaw joints when you open, close, or chew?
Has your jaw ever locked open or closed?
Do you have frequent headaches? If so, how often?
These questions are designed to assist in the screening history so that it may provide direction to your examination. The answer to these questions will often focus on the source of the problem. The answers to questions 1 and 2 are usually related to the TMJ, while questions 3 and 4 are related to either TMJ or MUSCLE. Question 5 usually relates to MUSCLE. Asking these questions can also provide clues to whether the present problem is unchanged or has deteriorated. For example, a screening history of a joint that stopped clicking/or popping does not necessarily mean the condition has improved; in fact it may have gotten worse. In this case, further examination of the TMJ would be required to diagnose the condition of the joint.
Never underestimate the importance of a thorough screening history. It provides valuable information that can help serve the patient and provide a better, more accurate diagnosis. A complete examination is never complete without a proper screening history.