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How is TMJ Screened by a Doctor?

How is TMJ Screened by a Doctor

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) is a complex and often misunderstood condition that can cause significant discomfort and dysfunction for those affected. The process of diagnosing and treating TMJ requires a specialized approach, which is where experts like Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari, a TMJ specialist, come into play. This blog will explore the detailed and methodical screening process for TMJ, emphasizing the importance of a comprehensive evaluation in achieving accurate diagnoses and effective treatment plans.

Understanding TMJ and Its Impact

TMJ refers to disorders related to the temporomandibular joint, a critical structure that connects the jawbone to the skull. Symptoms of TMJ disorders can vary widely, including jaw pain, difficulty chewing, and clicking or locking of the jaw joint. These symptoms can significantly impact a patient’s quality of life, making routine activities like eating, talking, and even yawning uncomfortable or painful.

The Role of a TMJ Specialist

TMJ specialists like Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari are dedicated to diagnosing and treating disorders of the jaw and face. Their expertise is crucial because TMJ symptoms can mimic those of other medical conditions, making accurate diagnosis challenging. A TMJ specialist’s training allows them to perform specialized evaluations that are essential for correct diagnosis and effective treatment.

Comprehensive Evaluation: The First Step in TMJ Treatment

The process of diagnosing TMJ typically begins with a comprehensive evaluation, which includes several critical steps designed to gather detailed information about the patient’s symptoms, history, and physical condition.

1. Symptoms and Pain History

The initial part of the evaluation involves a detailed discussion with the patient about their symptoms and pain history. The TMJ specialist will ask about the onset of symptoms, their frequency, duration, and intensity. Understanding when the symptoms began and how they have progressed over time provides clues about the underlying causes of TMJ and helps in forming a preliminary diagnosis.

2. Physical Examination

A thorough physical exam is crucial for diagnosing TMJ. This includes palpation of the TMJ and muscles of the jaw, face, and head. The specialist will manually examine these areas to detect any abnormalities or discomfort that might indicate TMJ disorders. This examination helps assess the joint’s condition and the surrounding muscles, which can be affected by TMJ disorders.

3. Listening and Feeling for TMJ Sounds

During the physical examination, the specialist will also listen and feel for sounds from the TMJ, such as clicking, popping, or grating. These sounds can be key indicators of the condition of the joint and its function.

4. Imaging Studies

Imaging is a critical component of the TMJ screening process. Techniques like Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) are used when needed. CBCT provides detailed images of the bone structure around the TMJ, while MRI offers a view of the soft tissues, including the disk and surrounding muscles. These imaging studies are invaluable for confirming the diagnosis and planning treatment.

5. Examination of the Patient’s Occlusion (Bite)

Examining the patient’s occlusion, or bite, is another essential aspect of the TMJ evaluation. The specialist assesses how the teeth meet and whether there are any irregularities in the bite that could contribute to TMJ symptoms.

6. Additional Diagnostic Testing

In some cases, additional diagnostic tests may be necessary to rule out other conditions or to gain further insight into the TMJ’s health. This might include various panels and tests that provide comprehensive data, helping to refine the treatment approach.

7. Previous Treatment Results

Reviewing the results of any previous treatments that the patient has undergone for TMJ or related symptoms is also critical. This information can guide the specialist in determining the most effective treatment strategies moving forward.

8. Research of Patient’s Medical and Dental History

A detailed review of the patient’s medical and dental history is part of the evaluation process. This research helps identify any underlying conditions or previous dental work that might influence TMJ symptoms.

9. Patient’s Psychosocial History

Understanding the patient’s psychosocial history, including stress levels and work-related factors, is vital. Stress can exacerbate TMJ symptoms, and certain occupational activities might put additional strain on the jaw and facial muscles.


The comprehensive evaluation process for TMJ, as exemplified by TMJ specialists like Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari, is crucial for diagnosing and treating this complex disorder effectively. By taking a detailed and methodical approach to assessing symptoms, history, and physical signs, specialists can tailor treatments that alleviate pain and restore function. If you’re experiencing symptoms of TMJ, seeking out a specialist who performs such thorough evaluations is your best step towards finding relief and regaining your quality of life. Remember, accurate diagnosis is the cornerstone of effective TMJ treatment. Book Your Appointment Now with Dr. Nojan!