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Honor Families Who Bravely Battle TMD

If you haven't done so already, please join me in making a year-end contribution to The TMJ Association (TMJA) in the honor of families like mine and yours who bravely battle this disease each and every day. Since my daughter, Alexandra, b

From Functional Pains to Central Sensitivity Syndromes

The following article in Medscape refers to TMD and some of its overlapping pain conditions as functional pains and proposes to change that description. Medscape is the leading online resource for physicians and healthcare professionals worldwide, offeri

Are TMD Patients More Pain Sensitive? Maybe. But It's Complicated

TMD patients come in many different varieties. Some experience pain and dysfunction confined only to the jaw and/or the associated chewing muscles. Other TMD patients have jaw pain plus one or more other painful conditions elsewhere in the body. Scientis

TMJA's 8th Scientific Meeting

TMJA celebrated its 8th biennial scientific meeting this fall provocatively challenging scientists to answer, How Can Precision Medicine Be Applied to Temporomandibular Disorders and its Comorbidities?

Bioengineers Grow Living Bone for Facial Reconstruction

The following is a press release from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB). This research was funded in part by NIBIB and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (DE 016525), both parts of the Natio

DIAGNOSING YOUR TMD

  • Oct 26, 2016

To aid health care providers, the The American Association for Dental Research recommends that a diagnosis of TMD or related orofacial pain conditions should be based primarily on information obtained from the patient’s history and a clinical examination of the head and neck. They may note, for example, whether patients experience pain when mild pressure is applied to the joint itself or to the chewing muscles. The patient’s medical history should not be restricted to the dentition (the teeth and their arrangement) or to the head and neck, but instead should be a complete medical record, which may reveal that the patient is also experiencing one or more of the comorbid conditions found to occur frequently in TMD patients. Blood tests are sometimes recommended to rule out possible medical conditions as a cause of the problem. Before undergoing any costly diagnostic test, it is always wise to get an independent opinion from another health care provider of your choice (one who is not associated with your current provider).

In addition to a detailed history and careful clinical examination, imaging studies of the teeth and jaws may sometimes be helpful as a diagnostic tool. These include:

  • Routine Dental X-rays and Panoramic Radiographs. These show the teeth and provide a screening view of the bony structures of the TM joint.
  • Computed Tomography (CT or CAT scan). This provides greater detail of the bone but a somewhat limited view of the disc and soft tissues. It is indicated when a screening radiograph of the TM joint shows some bony changes. More info on CT scans by FDA.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). This provides images of the disc as well as the muscles and other soft tissues surrounding the joint.
  • Scintigraphy (Bone scan). This involves the injection of a radioactive substance that is absorbed by the bone cells and shows whether a pathologic process is in an active or inactive state.

As a patient, you should discuss your concerns with your primary care physician or internist to help rule out any other conditions which could be causing  symptoms as well as to help get your pain under control.

Articles of Interest

Conditions Which May Produce Similar Signs and Symptoms as TMJ Disorders

Conditions that may produce similar signs and symptoms as TMJ disorders (pain and/or jaw dysfunction) and can lead to misdiagnosis include:

  • Atypical (vascular) neuralgia.

  • Hypo- and hyperkinesia (abnormal jaw movements).

  • Lyme disease.

  • Myositis (muscle inflammation).

  • Myositis ossificans (calcification in a muscle).

  • Otitis (earache).

  • Parotitis (salivary gland inflammation).

  • Scleroderma (chronic hardening of the skin).

  • Sinusitis.

  • Temporal arteritis (inflammation of the temporal artery).

  • Toothache.

  • Trigeminal neuralgia.

  • Trotter's syndrome (nasopharyngeal carcinoma).