The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is a joint located just in front of your ear. It is one of the most complex joints in the body and lets you move your jaw when you talk, eat and swallow. It is made up of the temporal bone of your skull, the lower jaw and a disc in between the two. Your jaw muscles allow you to move, open and close your jaw, and move it side to side.
What Causes A TMJ Disorder (TMD)?
Most TMJ problems are multi-factorial, that is, they are caused by several things in combination. Anything that upsets the bones, disc, ligaments or muscles that make your TMJ move, can cause a TMJ Disorder. Things like trauma, stress, grinding, recent dental work and arthritis can lead to a TMJ Disorder. Once a problem starts, a cycle of muscle spasm, pain, tissue damage and more muscle spasm begins.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms?
pain in the ears
click, grinding, crunching noises when you open or close
your jaw locks
sore jaw muscles
difficulty eating hard or chewy foods
sore or sensitive teeth with no dental problems
How Is It Treated?
Most TMJ problems can be treated by providing relief for the bones, muscles,and discs that make up the TMJ. This is usually done by a combination of the following:
applying moist heat
Does It Come Back?
TMJ problems often do come back if the balance in the Temporomandibular is upset. Such things as stress, new dental work, or trauma may trigger recurrence.