Elmhurst TMJ Dentist Explains How TMJ Disorder is Diagnosed

Written by Dr. Scharfenberg on Jul 26, 2011

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting a new patient, Becky. Becky came in to Scharfenberg Dental complaining of generalized pain and tenderness on the sides of her face. She had tried to ignore this pain for some time, in the hopes that it would improve, but it hadn’t. By the time she scheduled an appointment with us she was really suffering and experiencing significant discomfort.

For months, Becky couldn’t figure out why she was having such persistent facial and oral pain. As soon as she meet with our dental team, however, the reason became clear—she was suffering from TMJ dysfunction.

The temporomandibular joint is the joint that connects skull and the jawbone. For some patients this joint becomes irritated and inflamed, and the muscles surrounding this joint malfunction—this is TMJ dysfunction. Some patients may find that TMJ disorder negatively impacts their ability to speak, chew, smile, yawn, and swallow.

Here are some common symptoms of TMJ disorder:
• Swelling around the jaw joint, neck, and throat
• Tenderness around the jaw joint
• Clicking or popping noises when you move the jaw
• Limited jaw mobility—this may mean that your jaw gets “stuck” and is unable to open fully, or that your jaw does not easily move up and down or from side to side
• Headaches
• Dizziness
• A toothache sensation

Because many symptoms of TMD can be confused with other disorders, it is important that you address your concerns with a dental professional. Our Elmhurst TMJ dentists conduct a thorough evaluation to diagnose TMJ dysfunction. We will access your jaw mobility, and examine the jaw joint for swelling and irritation. Additionally, using panoramic X-rays we can determine whether TMD is affecting your tooth health, which may contribute to facial swelling and pain. In extreme cases, it may be necessary to order more advanced imaging in order to survey the extent of TMD.

Working with a TMJ dentist, many patients can regain pain-free normal functioning using simple dental appliances. Our Elmhurst TMJ dentists utilize simple, non-surgical dental devices to realign the bite and relieve pain. If you notice any symptoms TMJ, let your dentist know—the faster you begin treatment the less likely it will be that you’ll suffer from more serious complications. Give us a call if you have any questions about TMJ disorder, or you’d like to learn more about treatment options—(630) 733-1624.