Testing & Diagnosis for Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ) in Children


At Children’s Hospital Boston, we believe that the first step in treating your child’s temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is forming an accurate and complete diagnosis.

While there is no standard test to identify TMD, your child’s symptoms and a physical exam will be adequate for diagnosis.

The physical examination includes:

  • feeling your child's jaw joints and surrounding muscles for discomfort
  • listening for clicking, popping or grinding sounds
  • examining your child’s jaw movement
  • examining your child’s mouth and teeth

The doctor will also review your child’s dental and medical history before making a diagnosis and starting treatment.

If your child's doctor wants more information about the health of the joint and any possible misalignment of the jaw, she may order any of the following tests:

  • Panoramic x-ray: this x-ray uses small doses of ionizing radiation to produce a film of your child’s mouth, teeth and jaws
  • MRI: (magnetic resonance imaging): a radiographic exam that uses a large magnet, radio waves and a computer to produce 2- and 3-dimensional images of your child's jaw, muscles, and mouth
  •  CT scan (computed tomography): a radiographic exam that uses x-ray equipment and powerful computers to create detailed, cross-sectional images of your jaw and mouth.

After we complete all necessary tests, Children’s experts from the oral and maxillofacial surgery department, dentistry or otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) may meet to review and discuss what their findings.