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Why should you load test the TMJ's?

Properly loading the joints tells you several things about the root cause of some patients' problems. This will also determine how functio nally stable the patients is. Let's start with the first item.


Indicate if the joint is healthy

You're going to determine whether you're dealing with a healthy joint. This determines whether you can move forward with taking diagnostic records. You remember when you begin the 2D and 3D process, we have to understand what type of joint we're dealing with.

If we're dealing with an unstable joint, we don't proceed with restorative treatment planning. We must treat the joint first. Load testing is a great way to determine whether you have a healthy joint or an unhealthy joint.

The technique involves loading the joint in three increments and asking permission from your patient between each increment to determine whether there's any tension or tenderness. Joint loading really determines whether you have an occlusal muscle issue or an actual joint issue.

If it's an occlusal muscle issue, your patient usually will indicate there's some tension during loading. If you have a joint problem, the patient will indicate that there's usually tenderness upon joint loading.

Indicate the slide between CR and MI

Once you verify centric relation after fully loading the joint, loading the joint also helps determine whether there is a difference between centric relation (CR) and maximum intercuspation (MI).

In most cases, you can visibly see that slide between the two points, and that's critical because if that's the slide that you're dealing with, now you have an understanding of your vertical dimension of occlusion. Documenting that slide is critical when you're joint loading because then you can verify that once you mount your models.

I high recommend that you do this consistently, you document consistently, and verify this when you mount your models in centric relation. I hope these points help you, and I hope you keep loading your joints during examination.

To learn more about screening for TMJ problems, register for the online course or reserve a seat at the upcoming live course Functional Occlusion - From TMJ to Smile Design.

Test your knowledge on occlusomuscle disorders

Dr. Khanna grew up in Toronto, Canada where he attended the University of Toronto and completed his Bachelor of Science degree (1989). He then continued post graduate school at the University of Detroit Mercy – School of Dentistry and earned his D.D.S. degree (1993). Dr. Khanna then completed a General Practice Residency at the University of Rochester-Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York (1994). After being an associate dentist for several years, Dr. Khanna opened his practice (March 2000) in beautiful downtown Geneva, Illinois. Since then, Dr. Khanna has been extensively involved in continuing education, and recently completed training at the prestigious Dawson Academy (St. Petersburg, FL). Dr. Khanna has dedicated his practice to excellence in comprehensive restorative and esthetic dentistry. Dr. Khanna’s philosophy involves treating every patient in the four aspects of complete dentistry. This includes achieving harmony between jaw joints, muscles, supporting tissues, and teeth. Dr. Khanna is licensed to provide patients with conscious or moderate sedation for all dental procedures. He completed training at the University of Illinois-School of Dentistry [Chicago] in 2003 where he was trained by the head of the Oral Maxillofacial Surgery department for 9 months. Since then Dr. Khanna has been providing sedation to patients for all dental procedures. If you or someone you know is interested in dental sedation, please contact our office for more information. Dr. Khanna is dedicated to his wife Jeanie and his two children, Raj, and Maxime.