Diagnosing temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) can often be difficult. Why? Because of a less than clear understanding of the causes and exact symptoms affecting TMD and the surrounding muscles—many healthcare professionals are hesitant. Fortunately, many dentists who have completed continuing education courses are able to properly diagnose TMD. And they’re not afraid to look deeper into the condition.

The Characteristics of TMD

Symptoms of TMD are characteristic of a number of other conditions, which is why diagnosis can be extremely difficult. Some symptoms that might mimic the characteristics of TMD include:

  • Toothache
  • Sinus infection
  • Ear infection
  • Facial neuralgias
  • Myofascial pain
  • Headaches

If pain in the jaw area is being experienced, tests will be recommended to rule out or confirm the presence of any conditions, including TMD.

The TMD Diagnosis

When conducting an examination of a patient experiencing pain in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) region, a detailed health history will be taken to look for any injuries, traumas, procedures or conditions that may be contributing to the apparent symptoms. Your TMJ will also be examined, along with the bones and muscles of the jaw, mouth, face, neck and head to note the following:

  • Pain and tenderness
  • Limited motion
  • Locking of the jaw when opening, closing, or moving the jaw side-to-side

While there is no standard, widely accepted test used to diagnose TMD, there are several tests that might aid in the diagnostic process:

  • X-rays of the face, joint and teeth
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Computed tomography (CT)

A majority of TMD cases cannot be cured, but there are treatment options available to help prevent the worsening of your condition, as well as pain. The underlying cause of TMD does not need to be known to provide quality care for someone diagnosed with TMD.

Contact us at Pinnacle Peak Family Dentistry to learn more about TMD and how we can help combat your pain. Reach out today—there’s no sense in just “dealing with” pain.