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TMJ Screening


Do you have frequent or regular headaches?
Are your jaw muscles sore or tender?
Are your joints sore or tender when you eat or chew?
Do your joints make any noise such as snapping, clicking, or popping?

If you catch yourself experiencing these types of aspects, you may be experiencing TMJ or Jaw Joint issues. Following is some information about your TMJ or Temporomandibular Joint.

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ, TMJD or TMD) involves conditions affecting the temporomandibular joint, jaw muscles and nerves on one or both sides of the head that result in jaw, face, and head and neck pain.

The pain and discomfort caused by TMJ disorders may be severe, can be either intermittent or constant, and may last for many years. According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), TMD symptoms may recur during stressful times, whether good or bad.

(Obtained from consumer guide to dentistry: http://www.yourdentistryguide.com)

The TMJ Screening consists of:

A. Occlusal Assessment: You are looking for any signs of occlusal instability which can cause occluso-muscle imbalance. These signs include worn, broken, or loose teeth, occlusal disease, hypermobility, excessive wear, tooth migration, or cusp fractures.

B. Jaw Opening: You are trying to determine if the patient has full range of motion and if not, how much range of motion they do have. Disposable range of motion scales makes this evaluation simple and quick.

C. Muscle Palpation: Palpation of the masticatory muscles is part of a standard screening exam for temporomandibular disorders. Muscle tenderness is almost always present if a muscle is overworked in an uncoordinated manner.

D. Joint Sounds: A normal joint is quiet. You are listening for any sounds during joint movement that may indicate an intracapsular disorder. While the patient is opening, you are listening for sounds like grating or scratching and you are also listening for popping and clicking; both when the patient is only open slightly and when the patient is only open wide.

E. Load Testing: Load testing with the Lucia Jig will help you determine whether an intracapsular structural disorder is or is not a source of pain.

(Obtained information from Great Lakes Orthodontics http://www.greatlakesortho.com/content/files/resources/DSFSplintPatientScreeningGuide_S244.pdf has been modified.)