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X-Ray Temporomandibular Joint-Both Sides

Also known as TMJ X-ray, Jaw Joint X-ray

X-raying Basics

A temporomandibular X-ray is a radiograph of the small jaw joint located in front of the ear. This joint connects the mandible (lower jaw) to your skull and the rest of your bones. The TMJ consists of two joints that connect the jawbone and crown on either side of your head. It is an atypical synovial joint found between the mandible, the mandibular fossa, and the end of the temporal bone.

The temporomandibular joint enables your jaw to open and close so you can perform necessary functions such as eating, talking, and moving your jaw and mouth. The joints allow movement of the entire mandible (the whole lower jaw). 

Why do you need a temporomandibular X-ray?

A temporomandibular X-ray helps identify dislocations, fractures, structural differences, dental problems, and bone diseases such as osteoarthritis and trauma-related injuries.

The name given to the jaw joint's dysfunction is usually used to diagnose and identify a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD). Temporomandibular joint dysfunction does not have a particular cause. However, trauma to the jaw or joints is a common contributing factor. Other health conditions may contribute to the development of TMJ. These include:

● arthritis

● erosion of the jaw joint

● a habit of grinding the teeth

● structural jaw problems/congenital disabilities

Using orthodontic braces, poor posture, stress, poor diet, and a lack of sleep may also worsen the disorder.

When do you need to get it?

Your doctor may order a temporomandibular X-ray if they suspect you have a condition called TMD (temporomandibular joint dysfunction). TMD is a condition that affects a significant percentage of the population. Symptoms of this condition include:

● pain on or around the region of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ),

● ear pain 

● tenderness in muscles

● headaches

● noises from the temporomandibular joint such as clicking, popping, or grating sounds

● limited functionality or movement of the mandible

● locking due to alteration in mandibular positioning

● difficulty in opening and closing the jaw joint/mouth

● malocclusion

Do you need to prepare for the X-ray?

Usually, there are no special preparations needed before this test unless your doctor tells you otherwise. However, tell your doctor if you have surgically implanted devices, such as a metal plate in your head, artificial heart valves, or a pacemaker.

The X-ray technicians may require you to remove your clothing and wear a hospital gown during the procedure. They will also ask you to remove jewelry, glasses, contact lenses, dentures, and accessories before the X-ray. 

Be sure to inform the X-ray technician and your doctor if you are or may be pregnant. Since developing, fetuses are more susceptible to X-ray radiation than us.

What can you expect from a temporomandibular X-ray?

The X-ray technician will answer any questions you may have and guide you into the position needed for the procedure. 

For an X-ray of the temporomandibular joint, the technician will position you seated upright with the affected side closest to the detector and your head against it vertically. Depending on your doctor's request for your X-ray, the X-ray technician will guide you on whether you should open your mouth or keep it closed.

The X-ray technician may give you a lead apron (or shield) to cover your body parts that are not being X-rayed to avoid radiation exposure. It is vital to remain motionless during the procedure. Movement may cause a blurry image, and you may have to get the X-ray done again. If you cannot stand without support or keep still, neck or head support such as a foam piece can help maintain the head position. If this is the case, the X-ray technician will allow you to remain to lie down during the procedure.

What do your X-ray results mean? 

Once taken, the X-ray technician will give your X ray to a radiologist who is a medical professional who's specially trained in reading and understanding radiographs. The radiologist will then write out a report which they will share with your primary physician

Your doctor will then discuss the report with you. A treatment plan will begin once the doctor has determined if you have a fracture, bone degeneration, or the cause of your TMJ disorder.

Related X-rays: Complete Jaw Joint