TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is a ball-in-socket joint connecting the lower jaw to the temporal bone in the skull. TMJD stands for temporomandibular joint dysfunction, which is an umbrella term to describe pain and dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint. TMJ dysfunction could be the result of an injury to the jaw resulting in
joint dislocation, bruxism (teeth clenching or grinding), malocclusion, stress, poor posture, arthritis, or musculoskeletal disorders. Jaw injuries are actually the second most common type of facial injury, while nose injuries are the most common. TMJDs arising from jaw injury or facial trauma are often the result of motor vehicle accidents and sports injuries. Football, hockey, basketball, martial arts, and boxing carry the highest risk of dental trauma. To minimize the possibility of temporomandibular jaw injuries or dental trauma resulting from contact sports, dentists recommend athletes wear a custom-fitted mouth guard while playing. Symptoms used to diagnose TMJDs include pain or tenderness in the area around the temporomandibular joint, headaches, earaches, locked jaws, or clicking and popping sounds whenever the joint moves. If a patient is experiencing a TMJD, is it crucial for the health care provider to eliminate other causes of symptoms such as ear infections, migraines, or headaches. When a dentist suspects that the patient’s pain and discomfort may be the result of a TMJD, they will examine the affected joint and surrounding muscles and observe the patient’s jaw movements. If it is appropriate, the practitioner 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. 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 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. In addition to having the most experienced practitioners for general dentistry and the treatment of TMJ disorders, we have invested in the most cutting edge tools for diagnostics and imaging for patients with TMJDs. If you have been suffering from jaw pain or experienced a traumatic facial injury recently, please contact Dr. Federman’s office to schedule a consultation. If Dr. Federman believes you may be suffering from a TMJ disorder, he will order the appropriate testing and imaging necessary to evaluate and diagnose your condition before
developing a customized treatment plan uniquely tailored to the needs of each patient.