TMJ – TMD
There is still a lot to learn and to know about TMD. Dr. Cruz shares some of the common questions he hears from patients, which may be on your mind as well.
I’ve heard TMJ and TMD used interchangeably. What are the differences between these terms?
TMJ is an anatomical term, which refers to the temporomandibular joint or “hinge” that connects the jawbone to the skull. It is not a condition. TMD is short for temporomandibular disorders or temporomandibular dysfunction. This diagnostic term is widely accepted by professionals and describes a collection of symptoms and diseases that are usually found in TMD patients.
In addition to the pain described above, many TMD patients may experience symptoms such as:
- Difficulty opening or closing the mouth
- The sound of clicking or popping when chewing or opening and closing the mouth
- Excessive wear on the teeth
- Changes with the way the upper and lower teeth fit together
The severity of symptoms can vary from patient to patient. Symptom severity can also be in flux, so a patient with formerly minor discomfort may encounter debilitating and disruptive pain and functional problems over time. It’s commonly thought that factors such as stress can cause muscles to tighten and make existing symptoms worse.
What is TMD occlusion treatment and what does it involve?
You don’t have to undergo risky surgical procedures to get relief from TMD problems that negatively affect the quality of your life. Dr. Cruz will accurately diagnose the true nature of your condition and the potential causes of your troubling symptoms with a thorough, comprehensive assessment and examination. The team is also equipped to offer digital imaging for precise diagnoses. With an accurate diagnosis in hand and a complete picture of your condition, Dr. Cruz will recommend a therapy that may involve multiple, specialized approaches.
For instance, occlusion refers to the relationship between the teeth of the upper jaw and the corresponding teeth of the lower jaw when the mouth is closed. Irregular contact between the teeth of the upper and lower jaws or malocclusion is thought to be responsible for some symptoms of TMJ related disorders. Dr. Cruz may recommend orthodontic treatments or other approaches to align your teeth, as well as custom-fitted dental appliances. While he may prescribe pain relievers and muscle relaxers for symptom relief, some of the approaches mentioned here as well as others like dental reconstruction can reduce or eliminate the need for these medications over time.
Note. These images represent a specific TMD condition affecting the jaw joints (TMJ)