I am not sure its fear of speaking with a dr that got me into a similar situation but more of being mislead - intentionally IMO - by drs that claim to be tmj dentists, experts or specialists, gurus even - and then realize at some point they are way over their heads with a particular case. I too was "taken" by a dentist that had written books on the subject, patented his own orthotic to treat it and claimed a 100% success rate with his patients and only after much money was spent (close to $20K) and I was no better (actually things got worse) I was told I must have a jaw problem and he didn't handle those
- when I asked him how could he advertise and claim himself to be a tmj dentist and not treat a so-called "jaw problem" or even better how come he did not even recognize I had such a problem prior to convincing me his treatment would work - I got a blank stare which basically told me I was the proverbial fool. A hard lesson learned.
The truth is someone got the great idea that treating tmj can be a cash cow for dentists - so all some dentists do is attend a few seminars on the subject and hang a piece of paper on their wall.
So I would add to your suggestion to not only question and speak to your dr like you would any other person selling a product or service - do your homework so you know the right questions to ask and if their answers to you seem right, or make any sense (or not) or seem ambiguous. If they pull a god-like attitude and say you don't need to be concerned with the particulars or they don't have time to answer your questions or seem to get aggravated when you question their judgement or make suggestions regarding your own treatment, then they are not the right dr for you.
There are some very good, decent and honest tmj dentists out there who do care about people in general - and I have come across many dentists who although they do treat tmj have told me my case was too advanced for them - so I don't mean to disparage all dentists who treat tmj - just those who have the audacity to take advantage of others that are suffering and in pain.