Everything You Should Know About TMJ

In your body, a temporomandibular joint, also known as TMJ, is that sliding hinge that joins your jawbone and skull together. Generally, your jaw is made with only one joint on each side.

There are certain factors that contribute to TMJ jaw pain, including arthritis, genetics, and even jaw injury. One thing you may notice with people that have jaw pain is that they tend to grind and clench their teeth often.

This is a specific condition referred to as bruxism and is more severe and different from cases where people clench or grind their teeth habitually without developing TMJ disorders. Sometimes the discomfort and pain that comes with TMJ are temporary and can be treated using self-managed care or other nonsurgical jaw pain treatment options.

Whichever the case may be, surgery is always the last resort for treating TMJ jaw pain and should only be used after another treatment option fails. However, this is not to ignore the fact that some patients with TMJ disorder benefit more from these surgical treatments.

Symptoms of TMJ

The most common symptoms a person with TMJ disorder can identify include the following;

  • Tender and painful jaw
  • Temporomandibular joints pains on one or both sides
  • Pain and difficulty when chewing
  • Locking joints that make it difficult to close or open your mouth
  • Facial pain or aches
  • The grating sound of a clicking sensation as you open or close your mouth to chew. In this case, if you do not feel any pain or limitations associated with your clicking jaw, then you may not have any need for TMJ jaw pain treatment.

When you should see a doctor

If you have consistent TMJ jaw pain, notice tenderness in your jaw or can’t close and open your jaw completely, it is an indication that you need to seek medical attention. Here your primary healthcare giver, dentist, or TMJ specialist will discuss the possible causes and treatment options available for your condition.

Common causes of TMJ jaw pain

The temporomandibular joint is attached to a hinge action with sliding motions. These parts of the bones that are usually in contact with the joint are covered using cartilage. They are also separated using a small shock-absorbing disk that helps ensure smooth movement.

You can experience TMJ jaw pain if the following occurs;

  • Arthritis damages the cartilage in the joint.
  • The disk moves out or erodes its actual alignment.
  • The joint gets damaged either by a blow or any other forceful impact.
  • Most times, there is no clear cause of TMJ disorder or jaw pain.


A person with TMJ disorders often experiences pain in the muscles at the jaw joint, both responsible for controlling movement in the jaw area. Although it is often challenging to determine the exact reason a person may have TMJ disorder, the above-mentioned tips will serve as a guide.

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