Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a complex joint in your skull and is a common cause of many problems in and around the face. TMJ disorders, or TMD, refer to problems that you may be having at the intersection of your mandible (lower jaw) and your temporal bone (the bottom part of your skull). This connection is what gives you horizontal and vertical movement in the lower part of your face.
Your TMJ resembles a ball and socket joint. It also has a disk that cushions the space between the condyle, or mandibular ball, and the temporal bone socket.
Symptoms of TMD
If any part of your TMJ is having problems, you will probably know about it through some pain or lack of function. Here are some of the more common symptoms.
- Clicking – If your TMJ shifts inside of your joint when it moves, it may click. This sound can be quite loud, and you can also feel it if you put your fingers on your cheek in front of your ear. Estimates report that around 33% of people have this symptom, which does not always require treatment.
- Muscle pain – If you have pain in your temples or in the space where your largest jaw muscles are located, you may have TMD. In many cases, this pain is most intense when waking up. It may also come with stiffness in the jaw. If you are experiencing these symptoms because of clenching your teeth, you may be able to solve the problem with an occlusal nightguard.
- Sharp pain in the joint – Pain in the joint is a type of arthritis, and there is no cure for this set of symptoms. However, it can be treated through a holistic program of rest, medication, diet and physical therapy.
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