TMJ disorders are difficult to diagnose as there are no standard tests available for it. Nevertheless you can still approach the correct Dentist or physician who is a specialist for TMJ Disorders instead of visiting a regular doctor to receive proper diagnosis and treatment.
Exams for TMJ Disorder Diagnosis-
- In the beginning, you will be questioned about your medical history in order to understand your health condition. Your previous injuries, other medications and diagnoses will be taken into account to proceed with the diagnoses.
- Next, the specialist will make you open your mouth wide and might also make you bite, stretch, yawn and move your face, neck and jaw around to examine your jaw, face, neck, ears, mouth and throat. The area of pain and the kind and amount of pain in those areas will be assessed thoroughly.
- After this you will be made to take x-rays (a common imaging test) or even CT scan and MRI scan.
A CT scan or the computerized tomography scan is a combination of x-ray images taken from different angles and it uses the computer processing technology to create cross-sectional images. It can picture the details of your body’s innermost elements. Therefore, a CT scan can help in assessing the structures of the bones and muscles affected to be able to diagnose the TMJ disorder.
The MRI or the magnetic resonance imaging is another type of medical scan that uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the interiors of the body. Therefore, by conducting an MRI scan the soft tissues and the insides of the joints can be assessed.
All these TMJ examination tests- x-ray, CT scan and MRI scan are pain-free and safe.
The diagnosing process includes examining the five pairs of muscles that control the jaw. The purpose of the jaw is not only to open and close the mouth but it also controls the other movements of the jaw including the side to side, forward and backward motion of the jaws. Hence all these muscle movements have to be tested properly to understand the problems occurring in the body.
The next set of examinations conducted for diagnosing TMJ disorder-
- The TMJ Specialist you are consulting will inspect the discs that connects the jaw bone to the skull. This disc helps cushion the movement of the jaw.
- The specialist will then also check your ligaments, bones and muscles that comprise your TMJ.
- The physician or the specialist will then evaluate numerous structures and tissues in your face, head and neck.
By conducting the above tmj examinations, the physician is also trying to rule out the other diagnoses because diagnosing TMJ is very difficult.
TMJ arthroscopy is also at times used for diagnosing TMJ disorders. Your physician will insert a small thin tube or the cannula into the joint space and a small camera or the arthroscope is fixed into your body for viewing the area to help determine a diagnosis.
Authored by Dr. ABHIMANYU CHATURVEDI