What’s the Difference Between TMJ and TMD?

Philadelphia, Main Line, and Ardmore, Pennsylvania Cosmetic Dentistry

Do you grind your teeth, or regularly suffer from pain or tension in your mouth and other parts of the face? If so, Dr. Lindsey Marshall can examine your jaw for signs of TMJ disorder (TMD).

To learn more about TMJ/TMD and how it applies to your oral health, please call the office of Lindsey Marshall, DMD, today at (610) 649-0696 to schedule a consultation. Our neuromuscular dentist welcomes patients from in or around Philadelphia and throughout the Main Line region.


The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your lower jaw to the rest of the skull, including the upper jaw. It functions like a ball-and-socket mechanism, giving your mouth and jaw the range of motion to open, close, and move side to side when performing actions like:

  • Eating
  • Speaking
  • Yawning

TMD, meanwhile, stands for temporomandibular disorder. This is the general name for issues affecting the health and function of the joint and connected muscles in the face. The exact cause of TMD is unknown, but possible risk factors include:

  • Grinding or clenching the teeth
  • Injury or repetitive stress to the side of the mouth, which could dislocate the joint
  • Medical conditions that inflame joints, such as arthritis

Though the TMJ is a structure in the body and TMD is a disorder affecting the joint, you might hear some neuromuscular dentists use the term interchangeably.

When to Seek Treatment for TMJ Disorder

If you regularly experience the following symptoms, you might be suffering from dysfunction of the TMJ:

  • Clicking or popping sounds in the jaw
  • Migraine headaches
  • Pain in the jaw, face, neck, shoulders, or upper back
  • Limited mobility of the mouth

An estimated 10 million Americans suffer from some form of TMJ disorder. To alleviate the discomfort that can accompany TMD, it’s important to visit a neuromuscular dentist who can assess the health and function of your jaw and recommend treatment options.

Dr. Lindsey Marshall is an experienced neuromuscular dentist in the Philadelphia area. Having received training from the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies (better known simply as LVI), she regularly diagnoses and develops custom treatment plans for TMD sufferers.

If you believe your TMJ function has diminished or you suffer from regular facial pain or headaches, please contact Lindsey Marshall, DMD, or call (610) 649-0696 today to schedule your initial consultation with our Philadelphia neuromuscular dentist.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between TMD and TMJ?

TMJ is an acronym for the temporomandibular joint or jaw joint. It is the ball-and-socket joint where the lower jaw meets the skull and can be felt in action when you place a finger in front of one ear and open your mouth. TMD, or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, is a misaligned jaw joint. It brings many uncomfortable symptoms that can affect the jaw joint, its muscles and tendons, the teeth, the whole face, and even the head, neck, and shoulders. It can be diagnosed by a neuromuscular dentist.

What causes TMD?

Malocclusion (bad dental bite) is a common cause of TMD. When your jaw is misaligned, it causes continuous stress on the muscles, nerves and tissues of the temporomandibular joint and eventually pushes it out of alignment. Also, an impact to the head can knock the jaw joint out of alignment by shifting the position of the lower jaw or the cartilage pad that cushions the two bone surfaces.

What symptoms are associated with TMD?

The symptoms of TMD often include the following:

  • Painful, migraine-like headaches
  • Pain in the jaw
  • Tenderness in the jaw muscles
  • Tooth pain
  • Earaches
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Pain and pressure behind the eyes
  • Pain when opening the mouth
  • Jaw locking, popping and clicking sounds
  • A change in how your upper and lower teeth fit together

Because they are so diverse, separate TMD symptoms may be misdiagnosed as arising from other health conditions.

How do I know if I have TMD?

There is no way to diagnose your own TMD. But if you suspect you may have it, you should schedule an appointment with a neuromuscular dentist such as Dr. Lindsey Marshall, who can examine you using the latest in dental technology, to diagnose your condition and begin treating you.

Click here to learn more about Why you should see a neuromuscular Dentist.

How will my TMD be diagnosed?

Dr. Marshall will start by doing a complete dental exam. If she suspects TMD, she will use a combination of technological devices to:

  • Track the movements of your jaw
  • Record and analyze the electrical function of the jaw muscles
  • Record and analyze the sounds made by the jaw joints

She will also take digital X-rays to look in detail at how the jaw and skull are connecting.

What is the treatment for TMD?

Treatment for TMD is always customized and involves a combination of procedures. First, Dr. Marshall will work to relieve your immediate pain. Then she will stabilize your bite to prevent any further tooth damage or pain. Third, she will devise a long-term plan to correct the malocclusion.

How long will my TMD treatment take?

You should enjoy immediate relief from the worst symptoms. However, the length of your entire treatment depends on the severity of your condition and what steps are needed to correct it.

The sooner Dr. Marshall is able to diagnose your condition, the sooner you will be relieved of your pain and discomfort. If you suspect you may have TMD, please contact neuromuscular dentist, Dr. Lindsey F. Marshall immediately at (610) 649-0696 to schedule a consultation and start on the path towards pain relief. Serving residents of Philadelphia, Main Line, and Ardmore, Pennsylvania.

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