Unless you are diagnosed with TMJ or TMD, you might think that they are not distinct disorders. However, you would only be partially correct, as one is the disorder and the other is the name of the joint itself. The Oakland NJ family orthodontist at Loeb Orthodontics not only knows how to tell these things apart but also how to best treat the disorder.

TMJ Is the Joint

The temporomandibular joint is the joint of the lower jaw and skull. It is located in front of the ear, and you can find it by opening and closing your mouth. There is one joint on each side. These joints control your ability to open your mouth and chew. For the most part, the joints do not experience any issues, at least not until a patient develops TMD.

What TMD Is

Temporomandibular joint dysfunction is a disorder of the TMJs. Most people who experience this disorder have popping sounds and pain in the TMJs. The popping sound is the result of the joints slightly dislocating and then popping back into place. It is extremely painful when this happens.

Some causes of TMD include loose connective tissues, looser than normal muscles, TMJs that don't quite fit into place (which can be a congenital thing), and consistently chewing or biting down on exceptionally hard or chewy foods. It can be diagnosed by an orthodontist for adults or a general practitioner but is best treated by an orthodontist for adults. If you have experienced symptoms of this disorder for any length of time, you really should see a doctor or orthodontist to get the problem diagnosed properly and begin treatment right away.

General Treatment of TMD

There are several components to treating TMD. You will want some pain management as this condition is very painful. If left untreated, it only gets worse, not better.

Once some of the pain has been addressed, the orthodontist takes x-rays to see if there are any visible causes of the TMD, namely malformations of the TMJ. If there is a physical cause, then the orthodontist provides some non-surgical and surgical options for treatment. If it can't be concluded that the cause is physical in origin, then the orthodontist may suggest oral appliances and physical therapy exercises as treatment.

Curing TMD

Next, you might be wondering if it is possible to cure TMD. Yes and no, since the cause provides the course of treatment. If you have little bone spurs or a joint malformation, these things can be corrected with surgery and possibly cure the TMD. If the cause cannot be pinpointed, then your TMD may have to be something you live with all your life, but with treatments that reduce the pain and problematic popping.

Let an Oakland NJ family orthodontist at Loeb Orthodontics examine your TMJs today. They have been expertly treating this condition for years and they can help you. Schedule an appointment soon so that you can begin feeling better almost immediately!