The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is the joint where your jaw articulates with your skull. The joint is comprised of your mandible, or jaw bone, and the temporal bone of your skull. A small disc that helps motion occur is located in the joint where the two bones meet in your TMJ.
If you have TMJ dysfunction, then you understand how the condition can limit your day-to-day activities. It can make eating painful and an unpleasant experience, and it can sometimes prevent you from enjoying the foods that you like.
Signs and Symptoms of TMJ Dysfunction
Typical signs and symptoms of a problem with your TMJ include, but are not limited to:
- Pain in the area where your jaw connects to your skull. Pain when you touch your temple bone where your jaw connects may indicate a problem with your TMJ.
- Pain in the side of of your face or mouth. The TMJ typically refers pain down the side of your face to your jaw bone or mouth.
- Pain in your ear or in your neck behind your ear. Occasionally TMJ pain may be referred to your ear or your neck.
- Clicking noises coming from your jaw. Clicking noises coming from the side of your jaw when you open and close you mouth may indicate TMJ dysfunction.
- Locking or catching sensations in your jaw. When you move your jaw or open and close your mouth, it should be a smooth movement with no catching or locking. If your jaw locks, it may indicate a problem with your TMJ.
- Loss of motion in your jaw. Sometimes, TMJ dysfunction manifests as a loss of range of motion while you are opening and closing your mouth.
The symptoms of TMJ are typically made worse with opening your mouth wide, such as occurs with yawning, or when eating foods that are hard or difficult to chew.
If you suspect you have TMJ dysfunction, you should visit your doctor or dentist for treatment. You may also benefit from a course of physical therapy to help learn exercises for your jaw.
The use of a mouthpiece at night may be necessary to help keep your TMJ in the correct position while you are sleeping.
The TMJ is one of the most used joints in your body, and TMJ dysfunction can cause pain and limitations with opening your mouth. If you have any of the symptoms of TMJ dysfunction, take action right away to quickly be on the road to recovery.