There are times when patients and even some medical practitioners become overwhelmed and confused by certain medical terms. Medical terms such as TMJ and TMD are usually used synonymously, but they mean two different things. Below we will discuss these two terms to help you have a clear and deeper understanding of what each of them means and how they differentiate from each other.

What is TMJ?

TMJ means the temporomandibular joint. This joint is found next to each ear, and it connects your lower jaw (the mandibular) to the skull’s temporal bones. It is revered as one of your body’s unique joints because it helps you move your jaw to chew, speak, or open your mouth. Since the TMJ is delicate, it can be easily irritated, damaged, or inflamed, leading to discomfort and pain when chewing, opening your mouth, or speaking.

What is TMD?

TMD refers to temporomandibular disorders, which is the actual problem associated with the ligaments, bones, the TMJ muscles, or discs. If the joint is not properly aligned, it can cause inflammation, pain, and the jaw’s inability to operate.

What Causes TMD?

It can be challenging to determine the exact cause of a person’s TMD because there are so many things that cause TMD. These causes are brought about by issues with the joint (TMJ), the muscles near the jaw, or the jaw itself. When you experience some of these discomforts, seeking a medical professional’s help to know the cause is advisable. Below are some of the leading causes of TMD.

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  • Stress, causing clenching of teeth or tightening of the muscles in the jaw
  • Injury to the muscles (face and neck), jaw, or the TMJ
  • Dislocation of the disc(soft cushion)
  • Putting pressure on the joint by grinding or clenching the teeth
  • Misalignment of the jaw or teeth
  • Arthritis of the joint



If you have TMD, you will experience either chronic or temporary discomfort and pain. It is important to get a diagnosis from your doctor, seeing that there are so many signs and symptoms of temporomandibular disorders, which may often overlap with other problems such as sinus issues, tooth decay, arthritis, or gum disease. Here are a few of the most renowned signs and symptoms of TMD.

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  • Jaw dislocation
  • Headaches
  • Neck aches
  • Earaches
  • Tired feeling or swelling of the face
  • Stiff or locked jaw in the closed- or open-mouth position
  • Dental occlusion (the way both lower and upper teeth or jaw fit together)
  • Grating, clicking, or popping sound in the joint when you open or close your mouth
  • Tenderness or pain in the joint, in or around the ear, face, neck, or shoulders when speaking, chewing, or opening your mouth
  • Being unable to open your mouth very wide


Diagnosis and Treatment

There are various treatment options for TMD, depending on your specific condition. It is essential to seek a thorough diagnosis and treatment option to address your specific condition. Do not hesitate to contact Sinada Dental if you need more information regarding your TMJ or TMD.

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