Temporomandibular (TMJ) dysfunction

What is temporomandibular dysfunction?

The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are located on the sides of the head at the back of the jaw. They connect the jawbone to the skull and act like a hinge, enabling you to open and close your mouth. Temporomandibular dysfunction occurs when you experience pain in your jaw and in the muscles that control jaw movement.

The severity of temporomandibular dysfunction varies from person to person. Some individuals experience a dull aching sensation, while others experience more severe pain that may limit their ability to eat, drink and talk. Temporomandibular dysfunction is generally fairly short-lived and resolvable through non-surgical interventions and lifestyle changes. In cases of serious pain or repeated occurrences, a more intense course of treatment may be needed.


What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of temporomandibular dysfunction include the following:

  • Pain in one or both temporomandibular joints
  • Pain or tenderness in the jaw, or aching in the face
  • Locking of the jaw which limits your ability to open and close your mouth
  • Pain while chewing or talking
  • Earache
  • A clicking or grinding sound, or a grating sensation while you talk or chew


What causes temporomandibular dysfunction?

Like all joints in the body, the bones in the TMJ are covered with protective cartilage. Temporomandibular dysfunction can occur when the this cartilage is damaged by injury or arthritis, or when one of the components of the joint moves out of alignment. People with a tendency to gnash or grind their teeth may be at higher risk of temporomandibular dysfunction.

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