Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)

Temporomandibular joint syndrome, also known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD), is a disorder of the jaw muscles and nerves caused by injury to the temporomandibular joint. The temporomandibular joint is the hinge joint that connects the lower jaw to the temporal bone of your head, located just in front of the ears. The joints allow the jaw to move smoothly up and down and side to side, enabling you to talk and chew.

Signs and Symptoms

– Pain or tenderness in the face, neck, or shoulders, or near the ear
– Tired feeling in the face
– Swelling on the side of the face
– Limited movement of jaw
– Headache
– Trouble chewing
– Clicking, popping, or grating sounds when opening your mouth

Causes

– Grinding or clenching of the teeth
– Stress, which can cause a person to tighten their facial and jaw muscles or clench their teeth
– Misalignment of or trauma to the teeth or jaw
– Excessive gum chewing
– Presence of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the temporomandibular joint
– Orthodontic treatment, such as braces and headgear
– Malocclusion (a bad bite)

Treatment Options

– Avoid chewing gum
– Minor tranquilizers before bed to reduce spasms and pain
– Wear a grind guard over your teeth to prevent grinding
– Wear a bite plate over your teeth, if your bite is out of alignment
– Surgery

Since many other conditions can cause similar symptoms to TMD, including the toothache, sinus problems, arthritis, or gum disease, it is important to meet with your dentist regularly so they can conduct a patient history and physical exam to determine the cause of your symptoms.