TMJ or TMD – what is the difference? Well, if you want to get technical, TMJ is the “temporomandibular joint.” TMD, or “temporomandibular disorder,” is the disorder that affects the temporomandibular joint. Most dentists simply refer to the both as “TMD.” Now, to get more specific, the temporomandibular joint is what connects your jaw and your skull’s temporal joints. When they’re not in alignment, the result can be anything from mild discomfort to debilitating pain.
Occasionally, TMD can be temporary, and it will just go away without needing any treatment. Other times, it can go on forever if left untreated. Usually, TMJ occurs in people around the age of 40, but it is not unheard of in people who are younger or older. Additionally, statistics show that women seem to be affected by TMD more often than men.
Symptoms and Causes
The first symptom of TMD is pain in the jaw, head, or neck. It can also manifest as headaches, or even just a feeling of overwhelming fatigue. Often, it is caused by grinding or clenching your teeth. Other symptoms can include locking jaws, difficulty opening your mouth, ringing in your ears, facial swelling, dizziness, toothaches, or a clicking or grating feeling in your jaw. Because the symptoms are so many and varied, and because so many of the symptoms can also indicate other conditions, TMD can be difficult to diagnose.
Getting a Diagnosis
When you visit your dentist to have a TMD assessment, he or she will first check out your joints to see if there is any pain or tenderness and will also listen for sounds like clicking and grating that could indicate a problem in the muscular structure. You may also need X-rays or an MRI if the condition is not easily diagnosed. The main thing is to get a proper diagnosis so that a course of treatment can be recommended.
Depending on what is causing your TMD, and also depending on the severity, treatments will vary. It could be as simple as fitting you with a mouth guard that would stop you from grinding your teeth at night. If your bite is irregular, you might be a candidate for bridgework or crowns. In some instances, surgery could be the only effective treatment, but such situations are relatively rare.
If you believe that you have symptoms of TMD, we urge you to contact Old Milton Dental in Alpharetta to discuss a course of treatment. You can reach us at 678-624-0370. Alternatively, you can request an appointment by using the form on our Contact Us page. We will be pleased to meet with you and talk about your condition. If you are suffering from TMD, we can prescribe a course of treatment.