Preparing for a TMJ Examination


When pain in your jaw joints, facial muscles, neck and shoulders becomes severe, Waco residents may need to seek out a TMJ dentist. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. It is a frequently used shorthand word for a range of disorders and injuries to the joints that control the actions of the jaw. This includes daily activities like chewing, speaking and smiling. A more correct term to use is TMD, for temporomandibular joint disorder.

Not every Waco dentistis able to treat this wide range of disorders. The set of muscles and bones involved is a complex network that can have many symptoms. Patients may have pain directly in the joint or it can radiate to his head, neck or shoulder. The joint may actually get stuck in the open or closed position. TMD can come from a traumatic injury or it can develop over time from malformations in the joint itself or from repeated grinding or clenching of the jaw.

If the pain in your neck and jaw is becoming problematic, seeking out a qualified dentist for an examination is the first step to reliving the pain. Your first examination should be detailed and thorough. Make sure you are prepared for this first step in treatment.

Be prepared to answer questions.

Your dentist should ask a number of questions to determine how to best diagnose and treat your condition. Since TMD covers such a wider range of related problems, it is important for your dentist to discover the root of the issue as closely as he can. Here are a few of the thing you should try to remember prior to your appointment.

• How long have you had the problem?
• When did the pain first occur?
• Where is the pain located?
• When is the pain at its worst or least?
• What triggers the pain?
• Have you experienced an increase in stress recently?
• Have you been involved in an accident or experienced a traumatic injury?
• Does you jaw make grinding, clicking or popping noises? Are they painful?
• Is it difficult or painful to open your mouth fully?
• Do you have frequent headaches, neck aches, shoulder/upper back pain or toothaches?

Be prepared for a physical exam.

Your dentist will also do a physical exam of your jaw and jaw joints. He may feel your joints with his fingertips as you open and close your mouth. He may measure the range of motion you have in your jaw. He may apply gentle pressure to areas on and around your jaw to identify areas of pain or inflammation.

Be prepared for tests.

Depending on the severity of your condition and the dentist that you see, you may have to schedule some testing to find an accurate diagnosis.

• X-rays. An x-ray will show the positions of the bones in relation to one another. Many dentists will do this in-office. Your dentist may make a panoramic x-ray which will show the entire jaw from side to side.
• CT scans. A CT (computer tomography) or “cat” scan will show more details of the bones than a typical x-ray.
• MRI. An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan will give the most detailed view of both the bone and the soft tissues as well. This will give the dentist or oral surgeon a view of the disc within the joint and its location in relation to the bone.

Once the cause of your pain is discovered, treatment can begin and you will soon be able to find relief.

Steven T. Cutbirth DDS
1613 Lake Success Drive
Waco, TX 76710
(254) 772-5420 ‎

jaw | Flickr – Photo Sharing! : taken from – Steve A Johnson