Temporomandibular joint disorder or dysfunction is a problem with the joint between the jaw bone or mandible and the skull. These joints are located just in front of the ears.
Symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder
Symptoms include pain around the joint which may radiate into the neck or jaw muscles. There jaw may lock or have a clicking or cluncking feeling. The patient will be unable to open the mouth wide. The jaw will be stiff and the teeth may not fit together exactly as they did before the injury.
Temporomandibular joint disorders can occur due to direct impacts to the joint which affect the alignment of the joint. The jaw may even dislocate and then pop back in!
The joint can be overstretched when yawning widely or opening up for the dentist! The joint can become degenerated and develop arthritis. This is mostly seen in older poeple.
Muscle tension in the muscles which attach to the jaw can pull the joint out of alignment. The muscles may be tight because of teeth clenching, jaw grinding, biting nails and holding things between the teeth.
Treatment of temporomandibular joint dysfunction
If you think you have a problem with your TMJ, visit your Doctor or Dentist. They will examine it and determine what the problem is. In minor cases, self treatment is usually effective. This may involve rest, anti-inflammatory medications (if prescribed) and exercises prescribed by your Doctor or Dentist.
If your TMJ disorder is due to clenching or biting at night, your Dentist may give you a bite splint to wear at night. Surgery is very occasionally used to help realign the joint.