Temporomandibular disorder (TMJ, TMJD or TMD) is a painful disorder with many symptoms that affects the temporomandibular joint, an area that includes the hinge jaw joint (the bridge for the lower jaw or mandible). It also affects the temporal bone of the skull located in front of each ear, as well as the muscles surrounding the jaw and the jaw itself.
This area of the face contributes to chewing, bite (occlusion) and jaw movement. Therefore, TMJ disorder compromises jaw flexibility and may cause pain at rest or during common movements such as talking, chewing and yawning.
The pain and discomfort caused by TMJ disorder may be severe. It can be intermittent for some patients. Other patients can experience constant pain and symptoms, and it may last for many years.
Pain around your ears
Pain in your jaw, tooth, face, neck, or shoulders
Clicking or popping of your jaw (jaw instability)
Inability to open your mouth in a normal range of motion
Grinding your teeth
Ringing or fullness in your ears
Migraine headaches or any other type of headaches
Sinus pressure and lack of draining
There are many causes for TMD/TMJ, including:
Missing or bad teeth
Imbalance Of the Bite/Occlusion
For years, dentists have had to use a large amount of guesswork in diagnosing dental occlusion. Imprecise tools such as articulation paper, waxes, and pressure indicator paste were all we had to assess and balance the forces of the bite with the muscles and joints of the head and neck. Now, dentists can use state-of-the-art technology and computerized testing to accurately measure your bite/occlusion. This allows for more effective and more precise treatments.
TMD and Headaches
The most common TMD complaint is migraine headache accompanied by jaw, head, neck, and/or shoulder pain. Migraine headaches usually start in the forehead, temples, or back of the head. Those who clench or grind their teeth may also develop migraine-like headaches. Although the majority of migraines and TMJ headaches have various causes, they all have one thing in common: dysfunction of the temporal mandibular joint of the jaw.
The good news is that these migraine headaches and other headaches along with the associated pain can be treated effectively. If you think you might be suffering from TMD, contact a board-certified dentist who has experience treating this condition.