People often get confused when they read the two acronyms, TMJ and TMD. Experts may use either of the two acronyms, so people find themselves trying to figure out the difference between the two. First of all, to clear this misconception, you should know that both these acronyms refer to the same thing.
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joints while TMD stands for temporomandibular disorder, and both of these acronyms are used to refer to a painful condition of the jaw. The temporomandibular bone acts like a hinge connecting the jaw to the skull. The TMJ is literally pivotal for your overall health, as it is responsible for the movement of the mouth so you can talk, chew, and yawn. Any problem that occurs with this bone or joint can seriously impair your oral function and cause severe discomfort. In case you suspect you may have TMD, reach out to our experts at Elliott Dentistry.
What Leads to TMD?
The temporomandibular joints consist of cartilage on the bones that are separated by tiny shock-absorbing disks. These structures keep the movement of the mouth, up, down, and sideways smooth. TMD occurs when the shock-absorbing disk gets eroded or displaced. In other cases, the cartilage gets damaged due to arthritis and also leads to TMD. Furthermore, the TMJ may also acquire an injury from a blow or excessive strain.
It is hard for a patient to specify the root cause of TMD because there may be a set of reasons. The pain starts almost out of nowhere, and the patient is left wondering what the cause may be. Our specialists have identified three frequent causes for the disorder, which are injury, arthritis, or genetic triggers. The reason in your particular case will be determined by an evaluation of your and your family’s medical history. Another, although uncommon, reason for TMD is the patients’ habit of grinding their teeth or clenching the jaw extremely hard when in pain. When TMD is arising from habitual triggers, the problem can easily be solved with effective self-management and simple treatments.
What Is the Solution?
It is not rare that the symptoms of TMD go away on their own as the body repairs itself. However, if that is not the case, our specialists recommend immediate consultation as the resultant pain can really make life difficult. To help you get over this problem, our dentists can either prescribe you medication or physical therapy, of course, depending on your particular situation.
The primary medications used to treat the condition are painkillers that help the patient deal with the pain. Over the counter painkillers seldom work with this severe form of pain. Hence our dentist will recommend a more potent formula. If the TMD is a result of sleep apnea or bruxism, you will also be prescribed Tricyclic antidepressants in very low doses that help you sleep peacefully while eliminating the root cause of the problem.
While the pain may be severe while it lasts, know that TMD is only a temporary condition and can be efficiently dealt with by simple non-invasive treatment. If you or someone you know is suffering from the condition, contact us at 971-274-4360 or visit Elliott Dentistry.