Advertisement

What is temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ/TMD)?

It is a dysfunction that is related to the joint between the lower jaw and head which is right in front of the ear. It may include symptoms of pain in front of the ear, inability to open completely, or an inability to open and close the mouth in a smooth straight motion.

Temporomandibular joint dysfunctions (TMJ/TMD) are problems in your jaw joints that can cause pain. Each temporomandibular joint has a disc between the ball and socket. The disc cushions the load while enabling the jaw to open widely and rotate or glide. Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working properly may result in a painful TMJ disorder.

Todd A. Welch, DMD
Periodontics
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a small joint located in front of the ear where the skull and lower jaw meet. It permits the lower jaw (mandible) to move and function.

TMJ disorders are not uncommon and have a variety of symptoms. Patients may complain of earaches, headaches and limited ability to open their mouth. They may also complain of clicking or grating sounds in the joint and feel pain when opening and closing their mouth. What must be determined, of course, is the cause.

TMJ treatment may range from conservative dental and medical care to complex surgery. Depending on the diagnosis, treatment may include short-term non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for pain and muscle relaxation, bite plate or splint therapy, and even stress management counseling.

Generally, if non-surgical treatment is unsuccessful or if there is clear joint damage, surgery may be indicated. Surgery can involve either arthroscopy (the method identical to the orthopaedic procedures used to inspect and treat larger joints such as the knee) or repair of damaged tissue by a direct surgical approach.

Once TMJ disorders are correctly diagnosed, appropriate treatment can be provided.

Continue Learning about Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)

How do other illnesses affect TMJ?
RealAgeRealAge
Some conditions can predispose you to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. You're at higher r...
More Answers
If my jaw pops or clicks, does that mean I have TMJ?
John Van der Werff, DDSJohn Van der Werff, DDS
TMJ is a group of conditions related to the TMJ. Popping and clicking can be one of the signs of TMJ...
More Answers
What are the temporomandibular (tm) joints?
National Athletic Trainers' AssociationNational Athletic Trainers' Association
The temporomandibular joints are located on either side of the jaw (mandible), just below the te...
More Answers
How do the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) work?
American Dental AssociationAmerican Dental Association
Two joints and several jaw muscles make it possible to open and close the mouth. They work together ...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.