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Temporomandibular Disorders: Medical History and Physical Exam

Topic Overview

If a temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is suspected, your dentist or primary care doctor will ask you to describe:

  • Your jaw pain, including how long you have had it, whether you wake up with sore, stiff jaw muscles, and where you feel pain.
  • Any recent change in the way your teeth fit together.
  • Daily habits that may promote jaw pain—for example, whether your pain gets worse when you clench your teeth, talk, chew, swallow, or yawn.
  • Recent or older injuries to your face.
  • Whether stress at work or at home may be causing muscle tension.
  • Your past medical history, including any conditions such as arthritis, and any previous dental problems.

During a physical exam, your health professional may:

  • Touch (palpate) points around your jaw joint and move your jaw around.
  • Check for pain and tenderness.
  • Use a stethoscope to check for clicking or popping while your jaw is moving.
  • Check for problems with swallowing, signs of teeth grinding, and whether your jaw is locking.
  • Use a ruler to measure how wide you can open your jaw.
  • Make a dental cast of your teeth to check to see how they line up together and if they are worn down.

Related Information

References

Other Works Consulted

  • Okeson JP (2011). Temporomandibular disorders. In ET Bope et al., eds., Conn’s Current Therapy 2011, pp. 1008–1011. Philadelphia: Saunders.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Arden Christen, DDS, MSD, MA, FACD - Dentistry
Current as of March 12, 2014

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