Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) is a chronic pain generator that many people have to deal with. Some of the symptoms of TMJ include:

  • Pain in the temporomandibular joint on the sides of your face.
  • Headaches.
  • Jaw pain and muscle tenderness.
  • Earaches.
  • Clicking or popping sounds with jaw movement.
  • The jaw is locking up.
  • Changes in a person’s bite.

Many people are diagnosed during a thorough examination by their dentist. In many cases, using the results from the examination is enough medical evidence to diagnose TMJ and to begin treatments. In other cases, patients with the telltale symptoms of TMJ need to have specific and detailed imaging done of the TMJs to provide their doctor or dentist further information.

What is TMJ 3T MRI?

TMJ MRIAn MRI is a device that uses magnetic fields to get a closer look at bones and soft tissues in the body. A magnetic field and radiofrequency pulses produce digital image slices which give an in-depth look at the TMJ and surrounding areas in the jaw. The TMJs are imaged in both the open and closed positions and in multiple planes, which makes the imaging useful for diagnosing disc displacements, arthritis, and bony changes.


When is a TMJ 3T MRI Indicated?

A TMJ 3T MRI becomes indicated if further information is needed to make a diagnosis of TMJ. This information may be required because:

  • Conservative treatments have been ineffective.
  • Symptoms have worsened.
  • Patients have a history of injury to the area.
  • Jaw and mouth movement becomes especially impaired.
  • If an infection is suspected.
  • If extensive orthodontia will be needed to correct the problem.


When the dentist sees the MRI images and radiologist report, they will more easily be able to determine the condition of the TMJ joints, evaluate the way the disease has progressed, and be able to view the effects of any previous TMJ treatment.

Any images taken should be of the entire joint and the structures around it from different views.

Images of the soft tissue surrounding the TMJ area can also be done to observe the working of the joints and the tissue around them.


Interpretation of the MRI Images

The images of the hard tissue will evaluate the condylar and temporal components of the bones as well as the changes and integrity of the bony moving surfaces. The TMJs are also viewed for degenerative joint issues or morphological changes that may be affecting the TMJs, skull, or jaws. The position and motion of the jaw as well as the way the jaw moves may be evaluated too.

In conclusion, TMJ 3T MRI enhances the evaluation of the temporomandibular joints and can provide crucial information about possible causes of TMJ discomfort. If TMJ symptoms have worsened or have not improved with conventional treatments, an MRI of the TMJs may be something to discuss with your health provider.  

The Radiology Clinic offers convenient imaging on a high field 3T MRI to provide the best clinical imaging of the TMJs available.  Our expert fellowship trained radiologists with years of experience in interpreting TMJ MRIs will interpret your MRI’s results and provide your doctor or dentist with an accurate and prompt diagnosis to guide your treatment.