TMJ Evaluation

Examination, Imaging & More

Our mouths are home to 32 teeth, twelve of which are molars. These large back teeth also partner with our chewing muscles and come in handy for grinding the food down into smaller pieces, so that it's easier to swallow. But how do they know when to stop? How does the brain communicate with these muscles? And what happens if something goes wrong? Let’s explore the mechanisms behind a TMJ evaluation.

The TMJ is a hinge connecting your jawbone to your skull that allows movement from side to side or up and down. It can cause pain and other symptoms if misaligned or impacted by trauma, arthritis, or muscle tension. The muscles around the temporomandibular joint can also be affected if they go into spasm, further affecting the joint's function and perpetuating pain and other symptoms.

Problems with this joint commonly occur in patients who grind their teeth at night (bruxism), but it may also cause pain during everyday activities like eating and speaking. A successful TMJ treatment requires a multidisciplinary approach and an experienced dentist's expertise, including taking x-rays and performing a comprehensive examination.

What is the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)?
The temporomandibular joint is a major component of the orofacial region and is made up of the mandible and the temporal bone. The temporomandibular joint is responsible for the articulation of the mandible with the skull and allows us to chew, swallow, speak, and move our jaw. It also facilitates the opening and closing of our mouth - a function vital in terms of breathing while sleeping. TMJ disorders can be very serious, especially because they limit or restrict these actions, which are essential for day-to-day functionality.

The examination process for the TMJ
The examination process will consist of asking the patient to take some of the actions listed below. These preliminary findings may indicate the need for more specialized imagery.

  • Opening and closing of the mouth
  • Alignment of teeth
  • The symmetry of facial structures
  • Posture
  • Breathing pattern
  • Tongue or lip frenulum restriction
  • Hypermobility screen
  • ROM- Range of motion
  • Listening for joint noises, clicks, pops, or crepitus
  • Protrusion of mandible
  • Deviations and eflections


The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a complex structure that involves the interaction and balance of many factors. To get started, you should speak with your dentist to determine if they offer TMJ evaluations and treatments in Irvine CA. O.C. Lakes Dental offers these services at their office. Request an appointment for more information on how we can help you or a family member.


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