Hello and welcome back to Hartwell Dentistry’s series of informational blogs on TMD.

How do we at Hartwell Dentistry examine and diagnose patients with TMD?

A complete dental and medical evaluation is often necessary and recommended to evaluate patients with suspected TMJ disorders. A detailed medical and dental history form is filled out.

An in depth and personal discussion of the patient’s symptoms and concerns both past and present between the dentist and patient. With emphasis on how their condition effects quality of life and how it has developed over time. This may include assessing any previous treatments or recommendations for bite or jaw problems, including previous orthodontic intervention.

A specific examination of the patients TMJ, looking for any sounds, pain or asymmetry during various jaw movements. Measuring ranges of jaw movement including left to right jaw movements and how wide you can open comfortably. Palpation of all the muscles and surrounding structures in the head and neck, noting any tension or discomfort. Specific immobilization and loading tests are also used to assess joint and jaw health.

Impressions are often required to fabricate models of the teeth and bite records are taken to aid in the analysis of the underlying problem. Digital photos of the teeth showing jaw and teeth relationships and individual tooth position and wear are also important in assessing the condition.

Detailed information attained from the examination allows for proper analysis, which leads to appropriate diagnosis. Then an open discussion with the patient about their condition can occur so that they can have all the relevant information to enable them to decide what course of action is in their best interests.

Next time at Hartwell Dentistry’s blog we will begin the discussion on what range of treatment options are available in helping manage this problem.