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J Athl Train. 1996 Oct-Dec; 31(4): 346–350.
PMCID: PMC1318920

Evaluation of Sports-Related Temporomandibular Dysfunctions

Matthew E. Sailors, MEd, PT, ATC



To analyze the steps used in evaluation of sports- related temporomandibular dysfunctions and make recommendation for treatment and referral based upon the evaluation findings.

Data Sources:

This review searched Cinahl (1982 to 1995) and Medline (1986 to 1995). Key words searched included “sports related temporomandibular dysfunction,” “temporomandibular dysfunction,” and “temporomandibular joint.”

Data Synthesis:

This paper provides an introduction to the anatomy and biomechanics of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) as well as causes of temporomandibular disorders in athletes. An analysis of the evaluative steps used for the temporomandibular joint is also given. Findings that suggest specific temporomandibular dysfunctions are discussed.


Recommendations about when dental consultation is most appropriate or if conservative treatment is indicated are included. Hopefully, this will provide the sports medicine practitioner with a better understanding of the joint and its dysfunctions, as well as eliminate some unnecessary and costly dental referrals for our athletes.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Anderson GC, Schiffman EL, Schellhas KP, Fricton JR. Clinical vs. arthrographic diagnosis of TMJ internal derangement. J Dent Res. 1989 May;68(5):826–829. [PubMed]
  • Bakland LK, Boyne PJ. Trauma to the oral cavity. Clin Sports Med. 1989 Jan;8(1):25–41. [PubMed]
  • Braun BL. Treatment of an acute anterior disk displacement in the temporomandibular joint. A case report. Phys Ther. 1987 Aug;67(8):1234–1236. [PubMed]
  • Dworkin SF, Huggins KH, LeResche L, Von Korff M, Howard J, Truelove E, Sommers E. Epidemiology of signs and symptoms in temporomandibular disorders: clinical signs in cases and controls. J Am Dent Assoc. 1990 Mar;120(3):273–281. [PubMed]
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  • Friedman MH, Weisberg J. Joint play movements of the temporomandibular joint: clinical considerations. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1984 Jul;65(7):413–417. [PubMed]
  • Friedman MH, Weisberg J. Application of orthopedic principles in evaluation of the temporomandibular joint. Phys Ther. 1982 May;62(5):597–603. [PubMed]
  • Guralnick W, Kaban LB, Merrill RG. Temporomandibular-joint afflictions. N Engl J Med. 1978 Jul 20;299(3):123–129. [PubMed]
  • Le Resche L, Truelove EL, Dworkin SF. Temporomandibular disorders: a survey of dentists' knowledge and beliefs. J Am Dent Assoc. 1993 May;124(5):90–106. [PubMed]
  • Lobbezoo-Scholte AM, Steenks MH, Faber JA, Bosman F. Diagnostic value of orthopedic tests in patients with temporomandibular disorders. J Dent Res. 1993 Oct;72(10):1443–1453. [PubMed]
  • McNeill C, Mohl ND, Rugh JD, Tanaka TT. Temporomandibular disorders: diagnosis, management, education, and research. J Am Dent Assoc. 1990 Mar;120(3):253–passim. [PubMed]
  • Mohl ND, Dixon DC. Current status of diagnostic procedures for temporomandibular disorders. J Am Dent Assoc. 1994 Jan;125(1):56–64. [PubMed]
  • Parker MW. A dynamic model of etiology in temporomandibular disorders. J Am Dent Assoc. 1990 Mar;120(3):283–290. [PubMed]
  • Waide FL, Bade DM, Lovasko J, Montana J. Clinical management of a patient following temporomandibular joint arthroscopy. Phys Ther. 1992 May;72(5):355–364. [PubMed]

Articles from Journal of Athletic Training are provided here courtesy of National Athletic Trainers Association