Have you ever heard of TMJ syndrome? There are many misconceptions about it—but we’re here to clear up the facts about this common jaw disorder.
TMJ stands for Temporomandibular joint. This is the joint that connects your lower jaw to the temporal bones of your skull. You have two TMJ joints that work together as a pair—one in front of each ear. The TMJ joints work like a sliding hinge to move your jaw up and down.
Problems with this joint are often referred to as just TMJ. However, TMD, or temporomandibular disorders, is more accurate. TMD is a complex and poorly understood condition, but it typically results in pain in and around the jaw. TMD can affect your ability to chew, speak and make some facial expressions. In some cases, it may even affect your breathing.
What causes TMD? There are thought to be many factors, such as misaligned upper and lower teeth, injury to the jaw, grinding your teeth, stress, and arthritis.
Symptoms of TMD include pain when chewing, popping, clicking or grinding noises in the jaw, headaches, earaches, trouble opening and closing the mouth, a locked jaw, and pain and/or tenderness around the joint.
Approximately 12% of people in the US are affected by TMD. TMD is more common in women than men.
Researchers have discovered that people with TMD may also have other conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic headaches, endometriosis, or fibromyalgia to name a few.
If you think you or someone in your family may have TMJ syndrome, make an appointment with your dentist to learn more about what you can do.