If I have TMJ, does that mean I have a broken jaw?

Those who experience whiplash in a car accident resulting in hyperextension (backward
movement) followed by hyperflexion (forward movement) may suffer injuries to the neck and
spine in addition to fracturing the temporomandibular joint. It would be impossible to know
whether or not your jaw is fractured or even determine the root cause of your TMJ symptoms
before you have been examined by an experienced practitioner and undergone all necessary
diagnostics and imaging.

If Dr. Federman suspects that a patient’s pain and discomfort may be the result of TMJ
disorder, he will examine the affected joint and surrounding muscles and observe the patient’s
jaw movements. If it is appropriate, he may recommend a panoramic x-ray, cephalometric x-ray,
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or a 3-dimensional cone beam computed tomography
(CBCT) scan.

A panoramic x-ray captures the entire jaw and it is a useful diagnostic tool to evaluate the
teeth, jaws, and surrounding tissues. A panoramic x-ray may show signs of fractures in the jaw,
mandible, or maxilla. However, the main limitation of the panoramic x-ray is that it is only a 2-
dimensional image, so it cannot be used in more detailed diagnoses. A cephalometric x-ray is
another 2-dimensional image of the entire side of the head. Cephalometric images can also be
used to diagnose TMJDs and identify fractures in the jaw and neck by evaluating the
temporomandibular joint relative to the teeth and the patient’s overall facial portfolio.
An MRI is one of the most effective and least invasive diagnostic tools, using magnetic
fields and radio waves to create detailed images of organs and body tissues. For patients with
TMJDs, an MRI can provide a detailed view of the temporomandibular joint and surrounding
soft tissues, including the articular disc and condyle. If you are experiencing symptoms of a TMJ disorder or believe you have sustained a fracture to the jaw or neck, please call Cranio Associates and schedule an appointment with Dr. Federman so he can evaluate you, make an appropriate diagnosis, and develop a customized treatment plan for your particular case.