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Guide to Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)

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Updated May 30, 2014

1 of 10

Part 1 of 10 - What Are Temporomandibular Disorders?

TMD / TMJ

You may have seen articles about TMD or temporomandibular (jaw) disorders, also called TMJ syndrome. Perhaps you have even felt pain sometimes in your jaw area, or maybe your dentist or physician has told you that you have TMD.

If you have questions about temporomandibular disorders, you are not alone. Researchers, too, are looking for answers to what causes TMD, what are the best treatments, and how we can prevent these disorders.

TMD is not just one disorder, but a group of conditions, often painful, that affect the jaw joint (temporomandibular joint, or TMJ) and the muscles that control chewing. Although we don't know how many people actually have TMD, the disorders appear to affect about twice as many women as men.

Main Types

Experts generally agree that temporomandibular disorders fall into three main categories:

  • myofascial pain (most common form of TMD, which is discomfort or pain in the muscles that control jaw function and the neck and shoulder muscles)
  • internal derangement of the joint (meaning a dislocated jaw or displaced disc, or injury to the condyle)
  • degenerative joint disease (such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the jaw joint)

A person may have one or more of these conditions at the same time. Scientists are exploring how behavioral, psychological and physical factors may combine to cause TMD.

Researchers are working to clarify TMD symptoms, with the goal of developing easier and better methods of diagnosis and improved treatment.

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