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What is TMJ/TMD?

TMJ refers to the jaw joint or temporomandibular joint. Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are a collection of medical and dental conditions affecting the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and/or the muscles of mastication, as well as adjacent tissues (bones, muscles, ligaments, nerves). Although specific causes such as degenerative arthritis and trauma underlie some TMD, as a group these conditions have no common etiology or biological explanation and comprise a heterogeneous group of health problems whose signs and symptoms are overlapping, but not necessarily identical. Depending on the practitioner and the diagnostic methodology, the term TMD has been used to characterize a wide range of conditions diversely presented as pain in the face or jaw joint area, headaches, earaches, dizziness, masticatory musculature hypertrophy, limited mouth opening, closed or open lock of the TMJ, abnormal occlusal wear, clicking or popping sounds in the jaw joint, and other complaints. The severity of these presenting conditions may range from noticeable but clinically insignificant signs to seriously debilitating pain or dysfunction.

Given this variation among the problems labeled TMD, it is not surprising that controversy has emerged. Even the name TMD is not universally endorsed. Generally accepted, scientifically based guidelines for diagnosis and management of TMD are still unavailable. Even so, practitioners representing a variety of disciplines and specialties have responded to their patients' needs by developing and employing a broad range of treatment approaches that include educational or behavioral counseling, pharmacological or mechanical approaches, occlusal therapies, and a variety of surgical procedures, or combinations thereof. For the majority of TMD patients, the absence of universally accepted guidelines for evaluation and diagnosis compromises the goals of consistent and conservative therapy. The lack of standard treatment protocols accepted across professional specialties means that many patients and practitioners may attempt therapy with inadequately tested approaches.

It is the goal of this website to offer a clear consistent approach to TMD. We will include much of the state of the art data concerning causation, symptoms, evaluation, and treatment.


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