According to statistics, 75% of Americans have experienced one or more signs or symptoms of temporomandibular joint dysfunction. For treatment to be effective, the examining dentist or dental specialist will investigate and attempt to determine whether the symptoms are associated with muscles and ligaments, the joint structure itself, or mechanical (how the structures and ligaments all work together).
The vast majority of TMD situations are treatable with non-invasive and non-surgical alternatives. Only about 5% of cases ever require any major direct surgery involving the jaw joints.
This is one aspect of dentistry where most dental practitioners prefer a non-invasive approach. For some patients, finding the right or effective treatment for their condition may be a matter of just trial and error. Finding the exact cause of the symptoms, though, may involve a time-consuming process.
Diagnostic Tools used for TMD
Many dentists and dental specialists have certain diagnostic methods they use all the time. The list below is of those diagnostic methods that are potentially available to dental practitioners for the diagnosing of TMD, though not every dentist will use them, and other dentists may be able to make a diagnosis without using every single method.
1) X-rays of the skull (cephalometric) and dental structures (panoramic)
3) Electromyography (to study muscle function)
4) Motion performance studies to determine how the joints, ligaments and teeth function together and may potentially be contributing to the condition
5) Joint vibration analysis (a form of ultrasound)
6) Study casts of upper and lower jaw to study occlusal function (how the teeth of the upper and lower jaw fit together and work together – or not – when chewing or at rest)
Conditions that Affect TMJ Health and Function
The health and function of the TMJ can be affected by many conditions and will determine which treatment can be used and, indeed, if treatment is at all possible or beneficial. Such conditions include:
1) rheumatoid and osteoarthritis
2) inflammation of the joint