Common TMJ Term Definitions

Craniomandibular Disorder (CMD): an orthopedic problem in which the temporomandibular joints (jaw joints) do not work properly.

Crepitus: crunching, rubbing or snapping sounds heard or felt when moving a joint.

Malocclusion: condition in which the upper and lower teeth do not fit together properly. Essentially, malocclusion is a “bad bite.” This can be caused by improper alignment of the teeth. An overbite is a common example of a malocclusion. Orthodontic treatment can also cause malocclusion. The teeth may appear straight but do not properly align in a way that is correct for the jaw joints.

Myofascial Pain Disorder: muscle spasms resulting from the incorrect alignment of the jaw joints with the teeth. The muscle spasms occur when the teeth fit one way (habitual bite) and the jaw joints fit another way. In other words, when the teeth fit together, the jaw joints do not fit properly. Conversely, in the position where the jaw joints fit properly, the teeth cannot fit together.

Orofacial: relating to the mouth and face.

Orthopedic Treatment: the treatment of any joint in the human body. As the temporomandibular joint is a ball and socket joint, any problem occurring with this joint falls under the category of orthopedic treatment.

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ): the temporomandibular joint is the jaw joint. Generally referred to in the singular, there are two (jaw joints) and they connect the jaw to the skull. Essentially, the temporomandibular joints are the connecting hinge mechanisms between the base of the skull (temporal bone) and the lower jaw (mandible).

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD): the disorder of the jaw joints. Symptoms of TMD include (but are not limited to) headaches, pain in the temple area, pain in and around the TMJ area, back pain, shoulder pain or stiffness in the neck, limited movement and opening of the jaw, earaches and ringing in the ears, clicking, popping or “gravelly” sound in the temporomandibular joints, dizziness. Currently, the jaw joint is one of the only joints in the human body that cannot be replaced. That is why it is important to have accurate, effective diagnosis and treatment of TMD – to preserve the jaw joint.

Tinnitus: sensation of a ringing, roaring, or buzzing sound in the ears or head.

Vertigo: dizziness or a spinning sensation.

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