The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is like a sliding hinge that connects your jawbone to the rest of your skull. This sliding hinge consists of a joint on the left and another on the right side of your jaw.
Often, the exact reason behind a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is not easy to point out. The Jaw Health Resource noted that many factors might contribute to jaw-related pain. Jaw injuries, arthritis, genetics, or a combination of these may cause the pain. In some cases, a patient complaining of TMD may grind or clench their teeth during sleep (bruxism). There are people, however, who show signs of bruxism yet never complain of any discomfort.
Sometimes, a person complaining of TMD pain or discomfort may only do so temporarily since the pain goes away over time. The patient may respond well to self-managed care and other nonsurgical modes of treatment. If such measures fail, surgery is the last resort.
The Symptoms of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
- Pain and/or tenderness in the jaw area
- Pain in your right or left or both temporomandibular joints
- Pain in and around the ear area
- Pain when chewing, or difficulty and reduced flexibility of the TMJ
- Facial pain
- Difficulty in opening or closing your mouth (lockjaw)
- Grating or clicking sound when you open or close your mouth, or when you chew
If you experience a clicking or grating sound whenever you chew or open/close your mouth, but it is not accompanied by pain, you may not need to see a medical professional about it.
Known Causes of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
It is not easy to determine the exact cause of TMD, but there are some possible explanations. There is a small disk separating the cartilage, which covers the bones that interact in the joint. That disk absorbs shock and it helps keep the interaction smooth. If that disk erodes or gets out of alignment, TMD can occur. Arthritis may also cause damage to the cartilage in the joint. The jaw joint may also sustain damage after a strong blow to the face, like a fall or an impact while playing contact sports.
To know more about your symptoms, see your dentist or medical provider. Don’t wait until it’s too late.