The jaw joint, or temperomandibular joint (TMJ) is formed by the mandible or lower jaw and the temporal bone of the skull. There is a small disc of cartilage in between the joint that acts to promote smooth painless movement of the jaw. The left and right TMJs are special and complicated structures in that they work together to create a very large degree of movement of the mandible. It is one of the most frequently used joints in the body and good function is essential for both general and physiological health. TMJ disorders are very common conditions that can have an immensely negative impact on an individual’s ability to eat, drink and communicate.
TMJ disorders are usually characterised by localised pain/stiffness around the front of the ear during opening, closing or sideways movements of the jaw joints. Clicking and locking are also potential signs of TMJ dysfunction. During many instances, neck pain and stiffness may accompany TMJ pain for various reasons.
There are many causes and factors related to TMJ pain, which include trauma, personal habits (grinding/clenching teeth), postural dysfunction, dental problems (malocclusion) and muscular problems. A thorough examination by a physiotherapist can help find and treat the cause of TMJ pain and help relieve your symptoms.
3rd Year Dental Student
Special interest in jaw pain