MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. It utilizes the magnetic properties of atoms in the body to create its images. A medical MRI is a tubular electromagnet that you lie down in. When turned on, the magnet’s field aligns the body’s particles in a particular way. Then the machine emits radiofrequency waves that temporarily realign the body’s particles. When the radio waves stop, the atoms realign with the tube magnet, faster or slower, depending on the local conditions. In the process, they emit an echo of the radio waves, which the machine can use to construct a 3D image of your body.
MRI gives extremely detailed images of the temporomandibular joint. MRI also has the benefit of letting us see soft tissue as well as hard tissue like bones and teeth. This makes it especially valuable for imaging dysfunctions involving the cushioning disc, tendons, ligaments, and muscles of the joint.
However, MRI can be expensive, and it is a bit of a nuisance to do. So your Detroit TMJ dentist likely won’t recommend MRI unless they have good reason to believe it will yield useful information.