Misinformation About TMJ Makes National News

When New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton’s team missed their chance to attend the 2019 Super Bowl, fans of his rival team, the Carolina Panthers, decided to play a prank on the coach. Encouraged by a local DJ, fans tweeted suggestions of what “gifts” to send him. Suggestions ranged from pacifiers with the opposing team’s logo to penalty flags and even a gift certificate to a shoe store in an effort to mock Payton’s signature look. But one suggestion stuck out among the many, and it could be a harmful one. It happened when one Panthers fan on Twitter suggested that Payton may be suffering from temporomandibular joint disorder, more commonly known as TMJ disorder or TMJD. Temporomandibular joint disorder affects the jaw joints, causing pain; stiffness of the jaw, back and neck; headaches; ringing in the ears; and more. The tweet read: “I got so [sic] chapstick for his lips, maybe a massage for his cheeks he probably has TMJ.” So, what’s wrong with this message? “Well, for starters, if someone has TMJ disorder, they should be seen by a neuromuscular orthodontist before attempting any other treatment,” says Dr. Alexandra George, a neuromuscular orthodontist from Wexford, Pennsylvania. That’s because without exact knowledge of the problem, treating it yourself could make it worse. “Your orthodontist or dentist should be the one suggesting treatments, not someone on Twitter,” says George “The fear is that someone reads that quote and tries something that actually makes the problem worse. Especially if the masseur doesn’t know how to treat TMJ disorders.” Sound advice from an expert: Don’t get medical advice from Twitter, and if you believe you could be suffering from TMJ disorder, speak to your doctor or dentist.

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