The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge that connects the mandible, (lower jaw) to the skull. The joints are in front of your ears, and allow the jaw to open and close, to eat and speak.

Temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) can cause facial pain, tenderness and difficulty moving the joint. These symptoms are commonly known as TMJ, which refers to a number of disorders affecting the joint, the masticatory muscles, and associated structures.

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The disorder affects more women than men and can become quite severe with pain and impaired mobility.

Some of the common symptoms of TMJ disorder are:

Facial pain

Pain in the jaw, neck, shoulders, or around the ears

Difficulty chewing dense or hard foods

Decreased mobility in the jaw

Noise (cracking, popping) in the joint.

More severe symptoms can include:

  • A sensation of tightness as the joint in the jaw gets “stuck” or locked
  • Swelling on the side of the face and a tired feeling in the face.
  • Shifting in the jaw that changes the way the upper and lower teeth align

TMD may also cause toothaches, headaches, neck aches, dizziness, earaches, hearing problems, upper shoulder pain, and ringing in the ears.

To determine whether you have TMJ disorder, the dentist will take your history and conduct a clinical examination to determine the cause of your symptoms.

Rest assured if you are diagnosed with TMD, there is a treatment plan that is right for you.