Ask a Dentist

June 10, 2022

Q: Are TMJ And TMD The Same Thing?

Female touching the sides of her face while wincing in pain

Some medical terms can be confusing. In the dentistry world, you might have come across the terms TMJ and TMD. If you’ve been confused by these terms, you’re not alone. These medical conditions are commonly used to describe a jaw disorder. But although they’re related, both are different things. 

What Is TMJ?

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. TMJ helps you open and close your mouth. This joint connects your jawbone to your skull. Everyone has two TMJs; one on each side of your jaw. You can feel them by placing your fingers in front of your ears and opening your mouth. 

Sometimes, you may experience discomfort or dysfunction in your TMJ. It may include:

  • Tenderness of jaw muscles
  • A clicking or popping sound when you open or close your mouth
  • A jaw that’s locked or gets stuck in place
  • Difficulty chewing or a misaligned bite
  • Headaches or earaches

If you’ve experienced any of the above symptoms chronically, talk to your dentist. You may have TMD (temporomandibular disorder).

What Is TMD?

It’s hard to know whether you have TMD, as the symptoms could be indicative of other health issues. Your dentist can make a proper diagnosis by taking a look at your medical history and taking x-rays. 

Possible causes of TMD include:

  • Stress
  • Arthritis
  • Injury to the teeth or jaw

To care for your jaw pain, your dentist may suggest:

  • A medication to minimize the pain 
  • An oral appliance to protect your teeth from clenching and grinding during the night
  • Relaxation techniques for stress reduction 

If these techniques are unsuccessful, your dentist may offer other treatment options. TMD is manageable and when you follow your dentist’s recommendations, you’ll be smiling and laughing in no time!

TMJ Versus TMD

TMJ refers only to the joint itself while TMD refers to the disorder. While TMJ is certainly a more commonly used term, TMD is the more accurate and medical term to describe jaw issues. When you describe a problem with your TMJ, you’re describing a TMJ disorder or syndrome. 

Is your jaw in pain? Let Dental Image Therapy Centres help you. Book an appointment with us online or by calling St. Vital (204-255-0587) or Garden City (204-334-4341). We look forward to serving you and your family with your dentistry needs, including pediatric, cosmetic and dental implant services. 

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