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What is the Difference Between TMJ & TMD?

TMJ TMD Jaw Pain

TMJ versus TMD

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. TMD stands for temporomandibular joint disorder. The difference between the two is simply that TMJ refers to the joint itself, while TMD refers to disorders characterized by inflammation or misalignment of the TMJs.


Why are the temporomandibular joints special?

Temporomandibular joints (TMJs) are the "hinges" on either side of your face that connect your jaw to your cheek bones. These joints are unique in their hinging and sliding mobility, allowing your jaw to open, shift left and right, and move forward and backward. This full range of motion is important in eating and speech.

Because the TMJs are connected to by the jaw, their proper function depends on each other, and on the teeth. Your TMJs rely on many thing working just right, so it is no surprise that disorders involving the TMJs (TMD) are so common.


What is temporomandibular joint disorder?

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) refers to inflammation or malalignment of the TM joints. TMD can be a broad term referring to a variety of similar problems—all of which are related to the joints connecting your jaw to your cheekbone.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you may have TMD:

  • Pain or tenderness in the:
    • Jaw
    • Ears
    • Face
    • Neck and shoulders
  • Locked jaw
  • Popping / clicking sounds when opening your jaw
  • Discomfort chewing
  • Difficulty opening your mouth wide
  • Swelling on the side of your face

What causes temporomandibular joint disorder?

TMD can be caused by a number of things, most commonly:

  • Stress
  • Bruxism: clenching & grinding of the teeth
  • Trauma / injury
  • Displacement of the disc within the TM joints
  • Arthritis

Take steps toward treating your jaw pain.

Learn more about TMD and how it is treated to get relief. If you live in Gainesville or the North Georgia area, contact Dr. Brad Dixon to setup a consultation and determine the best treatment plan for you.

Schedule an Appointment or Contact Dr. Dixon Today