The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) acts like a sliding hinge, connecting your jawbone to your skull. You have one joint on each side of your jaw. TMJ disorders, a type of temporomandibular disorder or TMD — can cause pain in your jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement.
The exact cause of a person’s TMJ disorder is often difficult to determine. Your pain may be due to a combination of factors, such as genetics, arthritis, or jaw injury. Some people who have jaw pain also tend to clench or grind their teeth (bruxism).
The most common signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders include:
● Pain or tenderness of your jaw
● Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
● 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
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 need treatment for a TMJ disorder.
What causes it?
The temporomandibular joint combines a hinge action with sliding motions. The bones that interact in the joint are covered with cartilage and separated by a small shock-absorbing disk, which generally keeps the movement smooth.
Painful TMJ disorders can occur if:
● The disk erodes or moves out of its proper alignment.
● The joint’s cartilage is damaged by arthritis.
● A blow or other impact damages the joint.
In many cases, however, the cause of TMJ disorders isn’t exact.
Treatment often involves constructing a specially designed and customized night-time guard that fits against the upper teeth.