There is a 70% chance that you are mistaking your TMD for a toothache. Surprised? Well, it’s quite understandable since the symptoms of both TMD and Toothaches are very similar.
Now the big question is, how can you tell the difference yourself? Using DIY (Do It Yourself) techniques might look good, but except you are married to a dentist or a child to a dentist, the first best step is to book an appointment with a dentist. To understand the difference between the two, it is important to know what exactly TMJ is. Let’s dig in.
TMJ is the acronym for Temporomandibular Joint. It is one of the two synovial joints in the face, and Just like the duty of any Joint is to hold two bones together, the TMJ holds the bone of the head (the skull) together with the bone of the jaw (the mandible).
Every human being has this joint on each of the two sides of the face since it has to hold the jaw on two ends in order to keep the face together.
The complete movement of the jaw is highly dependent on this joint. This means one might be unable to feed or talk if there is a problem with this joint.
Are TMJ and TMD the Same?
As stated earlier, the TMJ, which means Temporomandibular Joint holds the face and head together by connecting the lower jaw to the skull. But this single purpose of the joint makes it generally useful to the face because it:
- Allows you open and close your jaw just like the hinge of a door lets you open and close it.
- Allows you to talk and eat
- Plays a vital role in Breathing by allowing the easy flow of air through the nasal muscles
- Gives you an aligned dentition
Regardless, to date, people still mistake TMJ for TMD.
The correct term for any problem on the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is a Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD or TMJD).
The difference is- one is a part of the body, and the other refers to any problem associated with that part of the body.
Most problems with the TMJ come with pains and really excruciating ones that can cause stiffness in that Joint.
Everywhere around the face and its parts are usually affected. Headaches, fevers, and dizziness may also occur when the pain spreads to the ears and other sensitive organs around the head.
This is why a TMD must be avoided at all costs.
Why TMJ pain occurs
Since any abnormality on the TMJ is often referred to as TMD, the TMD’s exact cause is hard to pinpoint. Some of the many possible causes include:
- Inflammation of The Joint (Arthritis): The fact that arthritis targets only joints and causes stiffness in them shows that TMD could be caused by it.
- Injury: Car Accidents, sports accidents, physical abuse, and falls can send you to a whiplash. Whiplash is any neck injury that is gotten from the forceful movement of the neck. The whiplash may not be your only worry after the accident because your TMJ may have been affected as well.
- A dental Procedure: another reason you may experience pain on your TMJ may be as a result of a recent surgery on your jaw.
- Bad Habits: Grinding your teeth while you are sleeping causes you to apply more pressure on your tooth unconsciously. When this is persistent, you are at risk of developing a TMD. Constantly chewing gum also opens you up to such risks.
- Genetics: Genetically induced TMDs are relatively rare but not impossible. This is because many persistent pain conditions have been linked to genes.
- Bad Posture: Violinists are prominent members of this category. The fact that their profession requires them to always carry the device in between their shoulder and jaws puts them at risk of generating TMD.
- Hormonal Behaviors and Anatomy: Many theories have shown that women have a higher chance of getting a TMD than men because of the estrogen level.
Other causes include braces and misalignment of the teeth and jaw.
Can TMJ be cured?
Two things to note here. First, it is possible for TMJ to heal without treatment. TMJ resulting from a recent surgery is sure to relieve you sooner than you think.
But if it were caused by your bad chewing habits or an accident, you would have to visit a doctor to determine what treatment options you have.
The treatments range from therapy to Botox and surgery.
Once you notice the slightest discomfort on your tooth, never take it for granted. Remember, there is no exact cause of TMJ, so don’t be quick to pop pain killers as they are useless if you’re dealing with pain in your jaw.
To get the best treatment for TMJ, be sure to book an appointment. If you are based in Canada, you should start by visiting https://southcentredental.ca/calgary-tmj-tmd to book an appointment with a dentist and get your oral health back faster than you can imagine.