Temporomandibular (TMJD or TMJ) joint disorder refers to any disorder or pathology related to the joint of the upper and lower jaw. TMJ can cause pain in the jaw joint, pain in the associated muscles, or problems using the jaw. Some of the causes for TMJinclude:
- Bruxism (repetitive unconscious clenching or grinding of teeth, often at night).
- Malalignment of the occlusal surfaces of the teeth due to defective crowns or other restorative procedures.
- Jaw thrusting (causing unusual speech and chewing habits).
- Excessive gum chewing or nail biting.
- Size of food bites eaten.
- Degenerative joint disease, such as osteoarthritis or organic degeneration of the articular surfaces, recurrent fibrous and/or bony ankylosis, developmental abnormality, or pathologic lesions within the TMJ
- Myofascial pain dysfunction syndrome
- Lack of overbite
Any popping, clicking, or grating sounds associated with movement of the jaw can be a good reason to suspect TMJ. Chewing may also become painful, and the jaw may lock or not open very wide. Ear symptoms are very common, and with the ear being in close proximity to the temporomandibular joint, TMJ is often associated with earaches. Dental X-Rays and CT scans (computerized tomography) can help identify issues with the temporomandibular joint. An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) can be deployed to analyze soft tissues in the mouth.
Symptoms for TMJ include:
- Biting or chewing difficulty or discomfort
- Clicking, popping, or grating sound when opening or closing the mouth
- Dull, aching pain in the face
- Earache (particularly in the morning)
- Headache (particularly in the morning)
- Hearing loss
- Migraine (particularly in the morning)
- Jaw pain or tenderness of the jaw
- Reduced ability to open or close the mouth
- Neck and shoulder pain