Temporomandibular Disorder

(TMD; Temporomandibular Joint Disorder; Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction; TMJ Syndrome; TMJ Osteoarthritis)

Definition

Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is a painful condition in the joint that opens and closes the mouth. These temporomandibular joints are the small joints in front of each ear. They attach the lower jaw (mandible) to the skull. The disorder may affect the jaw joint or the muscles surrounding it. The disorder can include:
  • Damage to the joint surface or intra-articular disc
  • Displacement or complete dislocation of jaw bones
The Temporomandibular Joint
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Causes

The exact cause of TMD is often unclear. Possible causes include:
  • Injury of the jaw or face
  • Excess tension in the jaw muscles
  • Faulty alignment between the upper and lower teeth
  • Disturbed movement of the jaw joint
  • Displacement or abnormal position of the jaw joint or cartilage disc inside the jaw joint
  • Arthritis or similar inflammatory process in the joint
  • Excess or limited motion of the joint

Risk Factors

TMD is more common in women aged 30-50 years old. Other factors that increase your chance of TMD include:

Symptoms

TMD may cause:
  • Pain in the temporomandibular joint, jaw, or face
  • Pain may be worse with chewing, yawning, or opening the mouth
  • Clicking, popping, or grating sounds with movement of the jaw
  • A sensation of the jaw catching or locking briefly, while attempting to open or close the mouth, or while chewing
  • Difficulty opening the mouth completely
  • A bite that feels off, uncomfortable, or as though it is frequently changing
  • Headache
  • Earache
  • Neck pain

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