TMJ / TMD
Is there a difference between TMJ and TMD? You may find that even some dentists use the terms interchangeably, but to be accurate, TMJ is your temporomandibular joint – it connects your skull’s temporal bones to your jaw. TMD, on the other hand, is a painful condition (temporomandibular joint disorder) that can cause anything from discomfort to excruciating pain. For the purposes, we will refer to the condition as TMD.
TMD can affect either side of your face, or both at the same time. Occasionally, the condition is temporary and will go away on its own without treatment. More often, though, TMD is chronic and will not go away if left untreated. TMD is more common in women than in men, and usually occurs around age 40, although it can occur at any age.
TMD Causes and Symptoms
Sometimes, TMD is due to arthritis in the joint. It can also occur as a result of an injury to the muscles of the neck, or from a head injury. Abnormal movement in the ball and socket of the temporomandibular joint can also lead to TMD and quite often it is caused by grinding or clenching the teeth.
Symptoms can include:
- Grating, popping or clicking in the jaw when chewing
- Jaws locking
- Pain in the jaw
- Difficulty opening your mouth
- Ringing in the ears
- Neck pain
As you might gather from this extensive list of symptoms, TMD is often difficult to diagnose. Numerous other issues can result in the same symptoms. This is why getting the correct diagnosis is so important.
When you visit Dr. Schlesinger for a TMD assessment, he will examine your joints for pain or tenderness and also listen while you move your jaws in order to identify any unusual sounds. He will also assess the musculature of your face, along with your bite. He may also order X-rays or an MRI.
The type of treatment will depend on what is causing the problem and how severe it is. As an example, you could be clenching your teeth or grinding them. Sometimes, people even do this in their sleep, and are totally unaware of what they are doing. If this is the cause, Dr. Schlesinger may fit you with a mouth guard. One such guard that has proven highly effective is the NTI device. It is simply a small appliance made from transparent plastic that you wear at night over your front teeth, to prevent your molars and canines from coming into contact. The device is custom-made to fit your mouth and fitted by Dr. Schlesinger.
On the other hand, if the TMD is due to an irregular bite, bridgework or dental crowns can be effective treatments. In rare and extreme cases, the only appropriate treatment for TMD is surgery.
If you have any of the above symptoms, and think that you might have TMD, visit Dr. William Schlesinger for a consultation and to work on an appropriate course of treatment. Dr. Schlesinger’s dental office is conveniently located at 255 East 70th Street, Suite 1E, New York, NY. You can arrange an appointment by calling 212-517-5940. If you prefer, you can also book a consultation using the form on our Contact Us page. With the range of treatments available, no one should have to suffer the discomfort of TMD.