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Diagnosis of Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Diagnosis of Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)

The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. TMD can often be diagnosed based on symptoms and an exam.

An exam may be normal. Or, it may find possible signs of TMD, such as:

  • Jaw or muscle pain
  • Muscle spasm at the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
  • Clicking, popping, or grating sounds and feelings—when the jaw is opened or closed
  • The jaw or teeth are not in line or get out of place in the jaw
  • Problems fully opening the mouth

TMD can be staged based on the number of problems and how severe they are.

There are no tests that diagnose TMD. The doctor may take images to help find problems. This can be done with:


  • Klatkiewicz T, Gawriołek K, et al. Ultrasonography in the diagnosis of temporomandibular disorders: a meta-analysis. Med Sci Monit. 2018;24:812-817.
  • Temporomandibular disorders. American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons website. Available at: https://www.aaoms.org/docs/practice_resources/clinical_resources/tmd_disorders.pdf. Accessed May 13, 2022.
  • Temporomandibular disorders. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/temporomandibular-disorders. Accessed May 13, 2022.
  • Temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) pain. ENThealth—American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: https://www.enthealth.org/conditions/temporo-mandibular-joint-tmj-pain. Accessed May 13, 2022.
  • TMJ. Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association website. Available at: http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/t/tmj. Accessed May 13, 2022.
  • TMJ (temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders). National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website. Available at: https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/health-info/tmd. Accessed May 13, 2022.


  • Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.