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TMJ vs TMD:Key Differences, Causes, and Treatments

 Two acronyms that are frequently used interchangeably are “TMD” and “TMJ.” In reality, they alludes to related but distinct terms. Let’s ascertain each’s meaning-

Your lower jaw and skull are joined by a hinge-like joint called the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). These are two joints that you have. They are located in front of your ears on either side of your head.

Disorders of the jaw muscles, temporomandibular joints, and the nerves connected to persistent facial pain are known as temporomandibular disorders (TMD). Temporomandibular disorder can be caused by any issue that interferes with the intricate network of muscles, bones, and joints from functioning as a unit. A collection of disorders known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), or TMJD for short, are brought on when your jaw joint becomes uncomfortable or inflamed.

Because it has to do with the TMJ joint, this illness is sometimes referred to as “TMJ.” However, it’s preferable to distinguish between these two words and refer to the medical illness as “TMD” or “TMJD” because doing so avoids confusion.

TMD is categorised by the following criteria by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research:

Myofascial pain– The most prevalent type of TMD is this one. The muscles that govern the function of the jaw, neck, and shoulders as well as the fascia, the connective tissue that covers the muscles, become sore or uncomfortable as a result.

Internal derangement of the joint– This could indicate an injury to the condyle, which is the rounded end of the jaw bone that articulates with the temporal skull bone, or a dislocated jaw or displaced disc, which is the cartilage cushion between the head of the jaw bone and the skull.

Degenerative joint disease– This comprises rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis in the joint of the jaw.

Causes of TMD

TMD’s precise aetiology is uncertain. However, exceptional circumstances are more likely to cause TMD. These include localised injuries, teeth grinding at night, joint arthritis, or tense muscles brought on by stress. 

Stress is a prevalent reason because, when we’re under a lot of strain, we have a tendency to clench our jaw muscles, sometimes subconsciously.

Also the common causes of TMD are 

-overuse of the chewing muscles, which can result from things like chewing gum for extended periods of time, biting nails or pens, grinding or clenching teeth, 

-misaligned bites, 

-anxiety,  

-wear and tear on the cartilage from dental issues or injuries, 

-damage to the disc inside your TMJ, and 

-structural jaw differences that exist from birth.

Signs and symptoms of tMD

TMD can begin mildly and worsen over time if left untreated, depending on what caused it. 

Typical symptoms could consist of: 

  • swelling near the jaw 

TMD should only be diagnosed by a medical professional if you are unable to open your mouth widely or at all and have lockjaw whether it is open or closed. 

This is due to the fact that other conditions such as gum disease or tooth decay can also result in jaw pain. In addition to doing a comprehensive oral examination, your doctor might decide to get X-rays in order to rule out any other possible causes. 

Treatment of TMD