How are temporomandibular disorders (TMD) diagnosed?

Because other conditions cause similar symptoms -- including a toothache, sinus problems, arthritis, or gum disease -- a thorough history and clinical exam is taken. Temporomandibular joints are examined for pain or tenderness; clicking, popping, or grating sounds during jaw movement; limited motion or locking of the jaw while opening or closing the mouth; and bite and facial muscle function.

Panoramic X-rays might be taken. These full face X-rays show the entire jaws, TMJ, and teeth to make sure other problems aren't causing the symptoms. Sometimes other imaging tests are needed. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) views the soft tissue, such as the TMJ disc, to see if it is in the proper position as the jaw moves. A computed tomography (CT) scan helps view the bony detail of the joint.

You may be seen by a maxillofacial surgeon for further care and treatment. This doctor specializes in surgical procedures in and about the entire face, mouth, and jaw area.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/10/2016.

References

  • TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint and Muscle Disorders). National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. National Institutes of Health. www.nidcr.nih.gov Accessed 6/1/2016.
  • TMJ Disorders. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. National Institutes of Health. www.nidcr.nih.gov Accessed 6/1/2016.
  • Goddard G. Chapter 26. Temporomandibular Disorders. In: Lalwani AK. eds. CURRENT Diagnosis & Treatment in Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery, 3e. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2012. library.ccf.org Accessed 6/1/2016.

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