The Temporomandibular Joint is simply the joint in your skull that hinges your jaw.

Senior man holding his jaw from TMJ

Obviously, you have two joints which work together as a pair, one each just in front of each ear. Since your lower jaw bone is called the mandible, and the bones on the side of your head called the temporal bones they just combined the two to name a very important joint in your body!

Strong muscles from the bones to the mandible allow the jaw to move in all three directions required for your jaw to move: up and down, side to side, and forward and back.

This joint is specially designed with a sliding movement to allow your jaw to open and close your mouth – as well as have the power to chew food. This joint is unlike any other in your body – and as such is susceptible to damage in many ways – including stress!

Temporomandibular Disorders Defined

Interestingly enough, Temporomandibular Joint disorders are a complex and poorly understood set of conditions usually defined by pain in the jaw joint area and surrounding tissues with the addition of possible limitation in jaw movements.

Injuries, trauma, stress are all blamed for some or all of these disorders.  It can affect one or both joints can make itself a real problem by affecting speaking, swallowing, facial movement, and even breathing and chewing.

What are the Symptoms?

The most common description include an awareness of a dull, aching pain.  This pain can seem to come and go in the jaw joint and nearby areas. Others report issues moving jaws with no pain attached.

A list of all symptoms may include everything from vision problems to pain in the jaw, neck and shoulders. You could have chronic headaches, ear pain, or dizziness. Other symptoms include jaw muscle stiffness, clicking, grating or popping of the jaw joint, and even a weird feeling to your ‘bite’.

Certainly this is not to say if you have one or more of these issues that you suffer from TMJ! Sore jaw muscles, headaches or any of these other issues could be caused by any numbers of other things from the flu to an accidental whack on the jaw!

Get Help!

Call Dr. Abeyta, or your local dentist for help if you believe your symptoms point to the Temporomandibular Joint.