Until you experience jaw pain, the abbreviations TMJ and TMD are most likely meaningless to you. However, once you experience the intense discomfort associated with TMJ and TMD, you will want and need to understand the difference between these commonly confused acronyms. Let’s set the record straight!
TMJ: The Temporomandibular Joint
TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint, which is the hinge that connects your jaw to the temporal bone. Though you probably didn’t know it by name, you’re most likely familiar with the temporal bone located in the front of each ear. When your TMJ works properly, it allows you to move your jaw up, down, and side to side. Most people take their TMJ for granted as they smile, yawn, chew, and talk without any pain or difficulty.
Many people experience problems with the TMJ that result in significant pain. They commonly call the condition TMJ, but its proper name is actually temporomandibular disorder (TMD).
Causes and Symptoms of TMD
TMD is the most common form of jaw pain and inflammation. Different causes can lead to TMD, such as grinding and clenching your teeth, arthritis in the TMJ, and movement of the disc between the ball and socket of the TMJ. TMD makes itself known through many symptoms like pain and tenderness in the joint area, difficulty opening the mouth wide, clicking and popping in the jaw joint, and trouble chewing. The signs of TMD can even extend beyond the mouth to impact the neck, shoulders, and ear areas. This means you may suffer from headaches, neck aches, dizziness, earaches, and hearing problems that actually are caused by TMD.
Though TMD is painful and often makes simple tasks difficult, your dentist can provide the treatment you need to feel comfortable once again. A night guard is a simple, affordable, and painless solution that lessens the effects of clenching and grinding at night by putting your teeth into the correct resting position. If your clenching and grinding problem occurs during the day as well, a splint can be used for round-the-clock use. Certain medications like NSAIDS can help to alleviate pain temporarily. For severe TMD, high-tech treatments like transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, ultrasound, and radio wave therapy might be able to deliver results.
You don’t have to look far in Broward County to find the best dentist to help you with your TMD. The team at Broward Oral Surgery Associates in Hollywood and Pembroke Pines, Florida are skilled oral and maxillofacial surgeons with the experience to handle even the worst cases of TMD. Call (954) 870-4826 to make your appointment today.