Naming History for the Condition
The modern history of dealing with these types of jaw disorders extends back to otolaryngologist James Costen, who in 1934 published the first descriptions of the condition from a modern medical perspective. Although Costen was not a dentist, he attributed much of the cause of the condition to malocclusion (bad bite), and recommended dental treatment to deal with the symptoms. (Incidentally, review of early treatment history shows that about 94% of patients saw improvement or were cured from their condition.)
As a result of Costen’s work, people initially called the condition Costen syndrome. This was the name given to the condition for the first decade or so. By 1948, however, people had adopted the term temporomandibular joint overclosure, and the acronym TMJ.
The symptoms caused by dysfunction in this area are diverse. Costen and others initially put emphasis on ear-related symptoms. As emphasis changed to more pain-related symptoms, people proposed a new name (Temporomandibular pain-dysfunction syndrome of Schwartz), and new acronyms (TMPDS or just PDS). This re-emphasis came in the mid-fifties, thanks to the work of Lazlo Schwartz. By the late 1950s, people proposed the label temporomandibular joint dysfunction, and the acronym TMD was born.
Over the years, people have proposed many similar acronyms, like TMS for temporomandibular syndrome, but the two terms TMJ and TMD were well-entrenched by then, and few wanted to adopt alternate nomenclature.