TMD vs. TMJ

Lake Oswego Dentist Serving Portland, & Nearby West Linn, OR

The terms “TMD” and “TMJ” are often used interchangeably, although they are certainly not the same thing. While TMD and TMJ are closely related to each other, it is important to understand the difference between the two terms.

What is TMJ?

The term “TMJ” refers to your temporomandibular joint, which connects your lower jaw to your skull. The TMJ is one of the most complex joints in your body. It is responsible for the smooth movement of your jaw up and down and side to side, and it plays an important role in essential functions such as chewing, talking, and yawning.

If your temporomandibular joint becomes misaligned, it can lead to many complications which can be both painful and inhibiting to the proper functioning of your jaw.

What is TMD?

The term “TMD” refers to temporomandibular joint disorder, a condition occurring when your TMJ becomes misaligned. Approximately 5-15% of Americans suffer from TMD, although the disorder often goes undiagnosed in many patients.

The field of neuromuscular dentistry is responsible for treating TMD. In general, the pain and symptoms resulting from TMD can be relieved through nonsurgical treatments provided at the office of Portland neuromuscular dentist Dr. Sue Wendling.

Causes and Symptoms of TMD

There are several reasons your jaw may become misaligned, causing your TMD:

  • Injury to your TMJ from a strong blow or whiplash
  • Grinding your teeth (bruxism)
  • Dislocation of the disc between the TMJ ball and socket
  • TMJ cartilage damage due to arthritis
  • Stress
  • Tooth loss

TMD results in a variety of symptoms, many of which are quite painful. You will most likely experience one or more of the following:

  • Jaw pain
  • Ear pain or stuffiness
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Aching facial pain
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Clicking or locking of your jaw
  • Headaches
  • Uneven bite
  • Limited range of motion in jaw

TMD Treatments

Depending on the type and severity of your symptoms, Dr. Wendling may recommend a variety of TMD treatments, including:

  • An orthotic appliance to be worn at night
  • Restorative dentistry procedures to correct your bite problem
  • TENS unit therapy to relax your jaw and bring it to its ideal resting position
  • Orthodontics
  • Medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve pain and swelling
  • Surgery, recommended only in severe cases where other treatments have proven unsuccessful

If you think you may be suffering from TMD symptoms, please contact our Portland neuromuscular dentist today to schedule your initial consultation. Dr. Wendling serves patients in Portland, Lake Oswego, and West Linn, Oregon.

Portland Cosmetic Dentist

17437 Boones Ferry Road Suite 400
Lake Oswego, Oregon 97035