Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome is pain in the jaw joint that can be caused by a variety of medical problems. The TMJ connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the skull (temporal bone) in front of the ear. Certain facial muscles control chewing. Problems in this area can cause head and neck pain, facial pain, ear pain, headaches, a jaw that is locked in position or difficult to open, problems biting, and jaw clicking or popping sounds when you bite. Temporomandibular joint syndrome is also referred to as temporomandibular joint disorder.
If you place your fingers just in front of your ears and open your mouth, you can feel the joint and its movement. When you open your mouth, the rounded ends of the lower jaw (condyles) glide along the joint socket of the temporal bone. The condyles slide back to their original position when you close your mouth. To keep this motion smooth, a soft disc of cartilage lies between the condyle and the temporal bone. This disc absorbs shock to the temporomandibular joint from chewing and other movements. Chewing creates a strong force. This disc distributes the forces of chewing throughout the joint space.
How do I know if I have TMJ syndrome (TMJ)?
A pain directly in the joint or muscles surrounding the joint (right in front of the ear) would be the first indication of TMJ syndrome. The pain may exist while the jaw is in the rested position, but most commonly it is present with talking, chewing, and yawning. The pain may not stay directly in the joint itself; it may also radiate to the face, skull, neck or shoulders. You may also experience some ear pain, or ringing in the ears. Often with TMJ syndrome a person may experience pops, clicks, or grinding in the joints when they are moved, which suggests improper positioning of the disc in the joint. Sometimes the jaw may even lock in the open position, deviate to one side or the other, or not even open as wide as possible. Headaches, with or without dizziness, are common symptoms associated with problems which originated in the TMJ even without the presence of TMJ pain.
Painful 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
Symptoms associated with TMJ disorders may be:
- Biting or chewing difficulty or discomfort
- Clicking, popping, or grating sound when opening or closing the mouth
- Dull, aching pain in the face
- Earache (particularly in the morning)
- Headache (particularly in the morning)
- Hearing loss
- Migraine (particularly in the morning)
- Jaw pain or tenderness of the jaw
- Reduced ability to open or close the mouth
- Neck and shoulder pain
If you suspect you may be having TMJ problems, it is important to see a qualified chiropractor , who is specially trained in TMJ syndrome or your dentist for proper diagnosis and treatment of your symptoms.
Ellis County Family Dentistry
1408 W Jefferson St
Waxahachie, TX 75165
Phone: (972) 937-0203
Fax: (972) 938-9655
Text/Email us at: [email protected]