Center For Dental Medicine • 2019 Galisteo St, J2 • Santa Fe, NM 87505 • 505.474.4644

How is TMD diagnosed?

Diagnosis of the temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) can be difficult, but most often is straightforward. Problems caused by a disorder of the nervous system can be the most difficult to diagnose accurately. Problems of the temporomandibular joints and the muscles that move the jaw (muscles of mastication) are usually less difficult to diagnose.

An accurate history of the problem is very important in making a correct diagnosis. This may include physical trauma that occurred at any time from infancy on. A psychological or emotional history is important, as emotional factors affect the ability of the body to overcome physical disorders. A history of headache may be a significant factor in diagnosing TMD. A history of pain during function and movements of the jaw is important, as is a history of clicking or grinding noises within the jaw joints.

Physical evaluation of the head, neck, jaws, teeth, and gums is important. This includes any tenderness felt when pressing forward within the ears. Movement of the lower jaw (mandible) to the left or right while opening is a sign of TMD. Inability to open fully (around 50 mm, or 2 inches) is a sign of TMD. Palpation (finger pressure) on the muscles of mastication and the muscles of the neck should not cause pain. If there is pain, it is a sign of TMD.

X-rays and MRIs are a vital part of making an accurate diagnosis. X-rays show the position and condition of the bones within the jaw joints. MRIs show the bones but also show the position and condition of the soft tissues inside the jaw joints, including the temporomandibular discs. X-rays do not show the soft tissues.

Digital photographs can be used to study the posture of the body and head for any misalignment. Misalignment of the skeleton can contribute to temporomandibular disorders.

Call us

If you are here to learn if your pain might be TMD, we are happy to answer by phone any questions you may have. Call us at 505-474-4644.

If you would like to make an appointment, we feel it is best to do so by phone. Computerized appointment systems try to make you fit the system. We try our best to fit your needs.