The jaw joint, or Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ), is where the jaw bone hinges to the skull at the temple, just in front of the ear. Signs and symptoms of a TMJ Disorder or TMD may include:
- Pain or tenderness of your jaw
- Jaw pain that may be mistaken for recurring tension headaches
- Aching pain in and around your ear
- Difficulty chewing or pain while chewing
- Aching facial pain
- Locking of the joint, making it difficult to open or close your mouth
- Clicking sound or grating sensation when you open your mouth or chew
This issue is common with about 1 in 4 people have symptoms in the jaw joint at some time in their lives. Causes of TMD include the following:
A TMJ Disorder may result with problems linked to the muscles working the joint and problems inside the joint itself. The causes of TMD may result from many reasons including the following:
TMD from Bad Posture
As we sit at a desk over a great deal of time, we often hold our heads too far forward. Additionally, sitting in the car for a long commute, working at a checkout station, always carrying your child on the same hip, can place the head in an awkward position and cause jaw problems. The “forward head position” puts a strain on the muscles, disk, and ligaments of the TMJ.
TMD from Chronic Jaw Clenching or Bruxism
Many people clench their jaws at night while they sleep, usually because of stress. Some clench their teeth throughout the day as well, especially when dealing with stressful situations. This puts a strain on the TMJ and its surrounding muscles.
TMD from Teeth Misalignment or Malocclusion
If your teeth are positioned in an unusual way, greater stress is placed on the TMJ when performing everyday jaw motions, such as chewing.
TMD from Jaw Fracture
In a traumatic accident involving the face or head, a fracture to the lower jaw may result in a TMD. Even when the fracture is fully healed, TMJ stiffness and pain may remain.
TMD from Face / Jaw Surgery
Individuals may experience a loss of TMJ mobility and function following certain kinds of surgery to the face and jaw.
TMD from Lockjaw or Trismus
Lockjaw causes the jaw muscles to spasm and the jaw cannot be fully opened, causing symptoms of TMD. Other causes of trismus include trauma to the jaw, tetanus, and radiation therapy to the face and neck.
TMD from Displacement of the TMJ disc
Displacement of soft-tissue cushion located between the ball and socket of the TMJ may cause popping or clicking of the jaw as well as pain.
TMD from Arthritis in the TMJ
Infectious arthritis, traumatic arthritis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and secondary degenerative arthritis can affect the temporomandibular joint.