Do I Have tmj or tmd?

I’m a little confused about which problem I have. I’ve been having problems with severe headaches and pain in my jaw. Someone said they think I have TMJ . I went home to look that up and there seems to be two things. One is called TMJ and one is called TMD. How do I know which one I have?


Dear Carol,

close up of temporomadibular joint

There’s a good reason you are confused about this. Even though they have two different technical meanings, people (especially patients) use them synonymously.

TMJ refers to the temporomadibular joint. I’ve placed a picture of it above so you can see a close up of it. TMD refers to the disorder of the temporomandibular joint.

Generally, when people say TMJ they mean TMJ disorder (or TMD).

If You Have TMJ Disorder

The symptoms you’ve described above do relate to TMJ Disorder.
There are many possible reasons for developing jaw problems. Your next step would be to see a dentist with expertise in TMJ problems, so he can properly diagnose the cause.

You want a dentist who’ has invested in significant post-doctoral training in TMJ diagnosis and treatment. For instance, Dr. Delaune has done extensive training with the world renown Dawson Academy.

There is not a recognized TMJ Specialty so any general dentist can call themselves a TMJ dentist. That makes it especially important you know that the dentist you’re dealing with is actually qualified.

Treatments vary depending on the cause. It can range from a simple orthotic device up to a full-mouth reconstruction. Good dentists start with the most conservative treatment except for the most rare, devastating cases.

I hope this helps. This blog is brought to you by New Orleans Dentist Dr. Duane Delaune.