TMJ or “TemporoMandibular Joint” disorder describes any disorder of the jaw joints or the related muscles. It may also be called TMD or “TemporoMandibular Disorder.” These are the two joints, one on either side of your head, which connect your lower jaw, or mandible, and your skull. The mandible connects to the skull via muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Problems include: Clicking or popping of the jaw joints, pain in or around the joints, and/or locking or limited opening of the mouth. This information on TMJ TMD or temporomandibular joint disease was created in our TMJ Bite Guards office.
The muscles that surround the TMJ can also be a source of pain because pain in the joints can cause the muscles to contract and limit jaw movement to try to reduce the pain. Habit such as clenching or biting on pencils, or parafunction, such as nighttime teeth grinding (bruxism) can also cause the muscles to fatigue or spasm. Problems with the muscles around the TMJ can cause: Headaches, pain behind the eyes, dizziness, earaches or ringing in the ears (tinnitus), and/or neck, shoulder or back pain.
Most of these symptoms respond well to treatment. A temporary device known as an orthotic may be recommended to be worn over the teeth to reduce muscle spasm and joint pain. Physical therapy may also help. Surgery may be occasionally needed but this should be avoided if possible.