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How Do I Find Out If I Have TMJ Disorder?

The first stop if you believe you may have TMJ disorder or any health condition is your primary care doctor, general practitioner, or internal medicine specialist. Since many patients do not require in depth treatment and surgery for TMJD, primary care physicians can assist with pain concerns, physical therapy, and referrals to other specialists if needed.
General dentists can also be helpful, keeping in mind that there is no board certified specialty for TMJ disorder dentists. Any dentist can call him or herself a “TMJ Specialist,” whether they have five hours of experience or 10,000 hours. Diagnosis varies from doctor to doctor and patient to patient. Everyone is very different in what symptoms they experience, so the patient’s experience with TMJ diagnosis can be just as varied.
It is very important to seek professional help and not rely only on the internet for health information.

Who Can Diagnose My TMJD or jaw pain?

  • General practitioners, family doctors, primary care physicians
  • Dentists, oral surgeons
  • Ear, nose, and throat doctors
  • Neurologists, physiatrists, & other pain related physicians
At the appointment for TMJ disorder diagnosis, the doctor or dentist may:
  • Conduct a complete medical history.
  • Listen to and feel your jaw and ear area, and ask you to open and close your mouth.
  • Examine your teeth, bite, and the alignment of your jaw joints.
  • Note if your teeth have any abnormalities that could be causing your jaw pain or could indicate that you grind or clench your teeth.
  • Press on the muscles around your jaw, ears, face, shoulders, arms, and back to find out which areas are painful or uncomfortable for you.
  • Ask questions about your life, any anxiety or stress you are experiencing, and how you are sleeping at night.
  • Measure how much you can open your mouth and if you experience any noises, pain, or other symptoms when doing so.
  • Check for issues like high fillings in your teeth, displaced teeth, cavities, uneven surfaces on your teeth, underbites and overbites, and other problems that may cause TMJ pain or discomfort.
Testing and Imaging Used in TMJ Disorder Diagnosis:
  • The doctor may order imaging or other tests to help him or her with your possible temporomandibular joint disorder diagnosis.
  • CT or CAT Scans can provide detail on the bones in the joint and surrounding areas, the sinuses, and the brain.
  • MRI shows the soft tissues including the disc and muscles.  MRI’s can also be taken with the mouth open and closed to show positioning of the disc and muscles in relation to the joints.
  • Tomography is a type of x-ray that shows cross sections of the jaw area.
  • Other routine dental x-rays can be used to diagnose TMJ disorder that provide views of the head, joint, teeth, and surrounding areas.
During and after diagnosis for TMJ disorder,  your doctor may refer you to other specialists that can help develop a multi-disciplinary treatment plan such as a:
  • Pain Specialist
  • Oral Surgeon
  • Neurologist or headache specialist
  • Ear, nose, and throat specialist
  • Rheumatologist
  • Physiatrist
  • Orthodontist
  • Psychiatrist or Psychologist
  • Physical Therapist and/or Massage Therapist
  • Nutritionist
Have more questions about diagnosing TMJ disorder?  These related articles may be helpful: