The temporomandibular joints, called TMJ, are the joints and jaw muscles that make it possible to open and close your mouth. Located on each side of the head, your TMJ work together when you chew, speak or swallow and include muscles and ligaments as well as the jaw bone. They also control the lower jaw (mandible) as it moves forward, backward and side to side.
TMJ can also refer to any disorder caused by a problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working properly. Possible causes of TMJ disorders include:
- tooth and jaw alignment
- stress and teeth grinding (bruxism)