The temporomandibular joint is the joint of the jaw and is frequently referred to as TMJ. The TMJ is a bilateral synovial articulation between the mandible and temporal bone. The name of the joint is derived from the two bones which form the joint: the upper temporal bone which is part of the cranium (skull), and the lower jawbone or mandible. The temporomandibular is pronounced “tem-puh-roe-man-DIB-u-lur” joint. The acronym for it is TMJ. However, this acronym has also been used to refer to a group of health conditions related to your jaw. The easiest way to visualize it is that it 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 in the muscles that control jaw movement.
Many people suffering from a TMJ disorder may not think of it unless a dentist diagnoses them with it. It can be a chronic pain issue with serious conditions that can cause much pain and discomfort. Untreated, this disorder can make it difficult to chew and even speak. Instead of suffering and being in agony, you can speak to your dentist.
Where is the Temporomandibular Joint Located?
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects your mandible (lower jaw) to your skull. The joint can be found on both sides of your head in front of your ears. It allows your jaw to open and close, letting you easily speak, eat, yawn, and other normal daily functions – when the joint is healthy.
When it works the way it was created to, it enables you to talk, chew, and yawn. Individuals suffering from TMJ dysfunction commonly have problems with the joint and muscles around it. When this joint is inflamed or traumatized, it may cause :
- Pain that travels throughout the face, jaw, or neck region
- Stiff jaw muscles that limit normal functioning
- Limited movement, operation, or locking of the jaw
- Painful clicking or popping in the jaw when opened and closed
- A change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together that increases pain
Jaw pain may go away with little or no treatment. Treatment may include simple things you can do yourself, such as eating soft foods or applying ice packs. It may also include pain medicines or devices to insert into your mouth. In very rare cases, you might need surgery.
In most cases, a person’s pain and discomfort associated with TMJ disorders are temporary. Commonly, when the Temporomandibular is inflamed or traumatized, it can be relieved with self-managed care or nonsurgical treatments. Surgery is typically a last resort after conservative measures have failed, but some people with TMJ disorders may benefit from surgical treatments. Conservative care has the best results for most people and starts with non-invasive, and no-opioid treatment to the jaw.
Symptoms that the Temporomandibular is Mis-functioning may include:
Signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders may include:
- Pain or tenderness in your jaw area
- Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints as you seek to move them
- Aching pain in and around your ear where it connects entities
- Difficulty chewing or pain while chewing tougher foods
- Aching facial pain in general without the ability to identify the exact location it is coming from
- Locking of your jaw joint, making it difficult to open or close your mouth
The best medical specialized person to help with Temporomandibular joint issues is an orofacial pain specialist. Once you have a clear diagnosis and the jaw pain has become more manageable, TMJ supervised jaw pain treatment integrated with self-care may provide the pain relief you need.