Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ), is the joint where the mandible (the lower jaw) joins the temporal bone of the skull, immediately in front of the ear on each side of your head. It is one of the most frequently used of all joints of the body. In case of TMJ dysfunction, patient experiences clicking of the joint or pain which may be sharp and searing, occurring each time they swallow, yawn, talk, or chew, or it may be dull and constant. It hurts the joint, immediately in front of the ear, but pain can radiate elsewhere.
Major and minor trauma to the jaw
Chewing gum throughout the day
Stress and other psychological factors
Teeth that do not fit together properly (improper bite)
Chronic malposition of the cartilage disc and persistent wear in the cartilage lining of the joint space
- Ear pain
- Sore jaw muscles
- Temple/cheek pain
- Jaw popping/clicking
- Locking of the jaw
- Difficulty in opening the mouth fully
- Frequent head/neck aches
Because TMJ symptoms often develop in the head and neck, ENT specialists are appropriately qualified to diagnose TMJ problems. Proper diagnosis of TMJ dysfunction begins with a detailed history and physical examination, including careful assessment of the teeth occlusion and function of the jaw joints and muscles. If the doctor diagnoses your case early, it will probably respond to these simple, self-remedies:
- Rest the muscles and joints by eating soft foods.
- Do not chew gum.
- Avoid clenching or tensing.
- Relax muscles with moist heat (1/2 hour at least twice daily).
- Exercise the jaw by opening and closing the mouth, keeping teeth aligned.
Relaxation techniques and stress reduction, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants or other medications may be indicated in a dose the doctor recommends.
- Avoid chewing gums
- Avoid stress and muscle tension
- Maintain good posture