TMJ disorders cause tenderness and pain in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) — the joint on each side of your head in front of your ears, where your lower jawbone meets your skull. This joint allows you to talk, chew and yawn.
TMJ disorders can be caused by many different types of problems — including arthritis, jaw injury, or muscle fatigue from clenching or grinding your teeth.
In most cases, the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ disorders can be alleviated with self-managed care or nonsurgical treatments. Severe TMJ disorders may need to be treated with dental or surgical interventions.
Signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders may include:
Pain or tenderness of your jaw
Aching pain in and around your ear
Difficulty chewing or discomfort while chewing
Aching facial pain
Locking of the joint, making it difficult to open or close your mouth
An uneven bite, because one or more teeth are making premature contact
TMJ disorders can also cause a clicking sound or grating sensation when you open your mouth or chew. But if there’s no pain or limitation of movement associated with your jaw clicking, you probably don’t have a TMJ disorder.
The temporomandibular joint combines a hinge action with sliding motions. The parts of the bones that interact in the joint are covered with cartilage and are separated by a small shock-absorbing disk, which keeps the movement smooth.
TMJ disorders can occur if:
The disk erodes or moves out of its proper alignment
The joint’s cartilage is damaged by arthritis
The joint is damaged by a blow or other impact
The muscles that stabilize the joint become fatigued from overwork, which can happen if you habitually clench or grind your teeth
In many cases, however, the cause of TMJ disorders isn’t clear.
content credit: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/tmj-disorders/DS00355
image credit: http://www.johnfseideldds.com/images/tmj.jpg