Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD), commonly known as TMJ disorder, is a complicated group of conditions, often characterized by pain and limited mobility in the jaw and surrounding tissue.
What Is The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)?
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is one of the most important joints in your body. It is the hinge joint that connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull, which is immediately in front of the ear on each side of your head. You can actually feel it if you place your finger in front of your ears and open and close your jaw. The joints are flexible, allowing the jaw to move smoothly up and down and side to side and enabling you to talk, chew, and yawn. Muscles attached to and surrounding the jaw joint control the position and movement of the jaw.
What Causes TMD?
The cause of TMD is not clear, but dentists believe that symptoms arise from problems with the muscles of the jaw or with the parts of the joint itself. Injury to the jaw, temporomandibular joint, or muscles of the head and neck -such as from a heavy blow or whiplash -can cause TMD.
Other Possible Causes Include:
- Grinding or clenching the teeth, which puts a lot of pressure on the TMJ
- Dislocation of the soft cushion or disc between the ball and socket
- Presence of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the TMJ
- Stress, which can cause a person to tighten facial and jaw muscles or clench the teeth
TMD Symptoms May Include The Following:
- Pain in the jaw muscles
- Pain in the neck and shoulders
- Chronic headaches
- Jaw muscle stiffness
- Limited movement or locking of the jaw
- Ear pain, pressure, fullness, ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Painful clicking, popping or grating in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth
How Is TMD Diagnosed?
Because many other conditions can cause similar symptoms to TMD -including a toothache, sinus problems, arthritis, or gum disease –Dr. Randy Singh, Dr. Marty Sekand, Dr. Ken Jandoo or Dr. Steven Schneider will conduct a careful patient history and physical exam to determine the cause of your symptoms before making any treatment recommendations.