As in all health care professions, we spend a great deal of effort and time in classification of the disease. Early in the more assertive awareness of jaw or bite issues, temporomandibular jaw joint disorder was commonly referred to as TMJ. The more proper term is in fact TMD. TMJ is the acronym for the Temporomandibular Joint – or the joint where your lower jaw (mandible) attaches to your skull (and in particular the temporal bone). The term TMD simply refers to a Disorder of this TM joint. The most common symptom of TMD is popping and clicking of the joint.
There are a number of TMD symptoms that fall under this broad term. The degenerative problems in the joint or dysfunctional relationship that is sometimes created by poor jaw alignment is also included. To the insurance companies and for the purposes of clear communication among peers, dentist and physicians are forced to use terms like TMD.
The real issue though is what is happening in the patient lives; what is happening to the patient’s quality of life? As neuromuscular dentists we are trained to understand the classification of the various disorders, but the focus is actually more directed to the potential to heal the causes of the various symptoms the patient is suffering with. Things like chronic headaches and facial pain are dramatically more important to a patient to address. Numb fingertips and neck aches are more important to understand than the codes the profession uses for communication. What we can learn at a place like the LVI Institute for Advanced Dental Studies is how to accurately assess and then assist patients in eliminating issues like chronic pain.