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Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD) - Exams and Tests

Currently there is no widely accepted standard test for identifying the cause of temporomandibular disorders (TMDs). But your dentist or doctor will most likely be able to accurately diagnose your condition with information from a medical history and physical exam.

Most TMDs are caused or made worse by muscle tension (tightness). Expect your doctor to suggest treatment that does not involve surgery or permanent changes to the jaw (conservative treatment) to relieve your jaw pain, muscle tension, and TM joint problems.

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If you have sudden pain after a facial or jaw injury, your doctor is likely to order some type of imaging test, such as an X-ray, a CT scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

If conservative treatment has not worked

If conservative treatment has not worked and your jaw is locking in place (a sign of disc displacement), your pain is severe or chronic, or you have other medical problems, such as rheumatoid arthritis, other tests may be needed. These tests are usually done only if knowing their results could change your recommended treatment plan.

If you still have symptoms after the first period of treatment, your doctor may begin to look for problems in the jaw joint structure. Other tests may include:

  • X-ray. This test can confirm whether the bones are worn away, broken, or disfigured. If disc displacement is suspected, X-rays may be helpful to show the size of the joint space. A narrow joint space can be a sign that the disc is affected.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A view of the soft tissues (ligaments, muscles, and articular disc) is useful in showing disc displacement or damage. Although expensive, MRI is thought to be the most effective imaging technique for assessing TMDs that may involve disc problems.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 11, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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    Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

    Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

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    American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

    This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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