What is TMJ?

Many people, even doctors, nurses, and insurance companies, use the term TMJ. But what does this abbreviation mean? The term TMJ is an abbreviation for Temporo-Mandibular Joint, or the jaw joint. In fact, there are really two TMJs, one in front of each ear. The TMJ is the joint formed by the temporal bone of the skull (Temporo) with the lower jaw or mandible (hence, mandibular). These joints move each time we chew, talk or even swallow. The TMJ is actually a sliding joint and not a ball-and-socket like the shoulder. This sliding allows for pressures placed on the joint to be distributed throughout the joint and not just in one area. The TMJ is the most complex joint in the human body. Placed between these two bones is a disc, just like the one between your back bones. This disc is primarily made of cartilage and in the TMJ acts like a third bone. The disc, being attached to a muscle, actually moves with certain movements of the TMJ.

 

Symptoms

• facial pain; jaw joint pain; often in combination with neck, shoulder, back pain and/or headaches
• popping, grating or clicking sounds with movement of the jaw joint
• pain in the joints of the face when opening or closing the mouth, yawning, or chewing
• swelling on the side of the face and/or mouth
• a bite that feels uncomfortable, "off," or as if it is continually changing
• limited opening or inability to open the mouth comfortably
• deviation of the jaw to one side
• the jaw locking open or closed

 

 

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you may have temporo mandibular joint disorder. Dr Palmer is at the forefront of the orthodontic industry when it comes to TMJ treatment and pain management. Please contact us to make an appointment.

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