Dec 06, 2022

How Is TMJ Diagnosed?

The temporomandibular joint, functioning as a sliding hinge, connects your jawbone and skull. One joint exists on both sides of your jaw. TMJ disorder, a temporomandibular joint malfunction, causes pain in your jaw joint and the muscles controlling jaw movement.

Determining the precise reasons for TMJ disorders is challenging, even for medical professionals. You might experience pain from various factors, including genetics, arthritis, jaw injury, bruxism, et cetera. However, people affected by bruxism may not constantly develop TMJ disorders.

The pain and discomfort linked with TMJ disorders are generally temporary and subside with self-managed care and nonsurgical treatments. If conservative treatments fail, medical professionals suggest surgery as a last resort. However, some people with these disorders benefit from surgical procedures.

What Are Common TMJ Symptoms?

Common TMJ symptoms include discomfort or tenderness in the jaw, pain in one or both the TMJ joints, aching around or in your ears, challenges chewing or discomfort during the activity, aching facial pain, jaw joint locking making it challenging for you to open and close your mouth.

TMJ disorders can also cause symptoms like a clicking sound or grating sensation when opening your mouth or chewing. However, if you don’t have any limitation of movement or pain associated with the clicking sounds, you don’t need treatment for the TMJ disorder.

When Should I Seek Treatment for TMJ Disorder?

You must seek medical assistance if you experience persistent pain or tenderness in your jaw. You help yourself by visiting the dentist in Chicago if you find it challenging to open or close your jaw entirely. The dentist, a TMJ specialist, can discuss possible reasons and therapies for your problem.

Diagnosing TMJ Disorders

When you visit the Chicago dentist, they will discuss your symptoms and examine your jaw. The dentist will listen to and feel your jaw asking you to open and close your mouth. They also observe your jaw’s range of motion and press on specific areas of your jaw to identify pain or discomfort.

If the dentist suspects an issue, they might suggest dental x-rays to examine your teeth and jaw, CT scans to view detailed pictures of the bones in the joint, and MRI scans to identify problems with the joint’s disk and the surrounding soft tissue.

Sometimes TMJ arthroscopy also helps when diagnosing TMJ disorders. When performing TMJ arthroscopy, the dentist inserts a thin tube into the joint space with a tiny camera to view the area and help diagnose.

Surgical or Other Procedures for TMJ Treatment

Sometimes the symptoms of TMJ disorders disappear without treatment. However, if you have persistent symptoms, the dentist might recommend different treatment options, often combined simultaneously.


Besides nonsurgical treatments, medication options help relieve the discomfort associated with TMJ disorders in many cases. For example, you might receive suggestions for over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories from the Chicago dentist. However, if the medications are unsuccessful in providing relief, the dentist can prescribe prescription painkillers for a limited period.

Tricyclic antidepressants helping with depression also provide relief from TMJ disorders when prescribed in low doses. The antidepressants also help with pain relief, sleeplessness, and bruxism. In addition, the dentist might suggest muscle relaxants for use for a few days or weeks to relieve the discomfort from TMJ disorders that might arise from muscle spasms.

If your situation doesn’t improve from nonsurgical therapies, the dentist might suggest processes like arthrocentesis, injections, TMJ arthroscopy, modified condylotomy, and open joint surgery, especially if your problem is related to a structural defect in the joint when you might need this procedure to repair or replace the joint. Unfortunately, open joint surgical procedures involve more risks than other treatments and require careful consideration after discussing their benefits and downsides.

If the Chicago dentist suggests surgical or other procedures, ensure that you discuss the risks and benefits of the recommendation and inquire about all your options. TMJ disorders, although discomforting, can disappear without intensive treatments like surgical procedures. Therefore you must also look for non-drug therapies, including oral splints or mouthguards, physical therapy, and counseling to strengthen jaw muscles and educate you about the factors elevating your jaw pain and how to avoid them.

Many people are affected by TMJ disorders for unknown reasons, which TMJ specialists find challenging to diagnose. Therefore if you are affected by persistent jaw pain, you must consider all options after diagnosing your situation and seek therapies suitable for your condition.

Family Dental Care — Chicago receives many patients complaining of jaw pain, indicating TMJ disorders. They strive to treat the discomfort patients experience using nonsurgical therapies, keeping surgery as a last resort. If you experience TMJ pain, you help yourself if you contact this practice to consult how you can overcome your discomfort.

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