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Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) involves the 2 joints that attach the lower jaw (mandible) to the skull. These 2 joints allow the mouth to open and close, and are located directly in front of your ears.

There are 3 types of disorders

  • Myofascial pain involving the muscles that control jaw function.
  • Joint derangement, such as a displaced disc, dislocated jaw, or injury to the bone.
  • Arthritis of the temporomandibular joint

Adult Skull Showing Temporomandibular Joint

Adult Skull Showing TMJ and Muscles

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

You may have TMD if:

  • The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are chronically inflamed and sore.
  • The muscles that work the temporomandibular joints are regularly in spasm.
  • The cushioning disc that should rest between the temporomandibular joint and the skull becomes worn out or displaced.
  • You have limited movement of your mandible.
  • Improper bite or malpositioned jaws
  • You have clicking in the TMJ during motion.

Researchers do not exactly know what causes TMD. Some people have had accidents or injuries involving their jaw, but many others have had no such incident. Some of the possible causes include:

  • Grinding the teeth or clenching the jaw in response to stress—bruxism
  • Arthritis of the temporomandibular joint
  • History of injury or trauma to the joint
  • Facial bone defects
  • Misalignments of the jaw or of the bite

Enlargement of TMJ With Jaw Open

Enlargement of TMJ with Open Jaw

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

TMD symptoms may originate within the joint itself or from the muscles that surround the joint. The treatment of these 2 variants of TMD may differ.

What are the risk factors for TMD?
What are the symptoms of TMD?
How is TMD diagnosed?
What are the treatments for TMD?
Are there screening tests for TMD?
How can I reduce my risk of TMD?
What questions should I ask my doctor?
What is it like to live with TMD?
Where can I get more information about TMD?

References:

Temporomandibular disorders. American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.aaoms.org/images/uploads/pdfs/tmj_disorders.pdf. Published 2013. Accessed February 22, 2017.

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114703/Temporomandibular-joint-TMJ-dysfunction. Updated May 11, 2015. Accessed February 22, 2017.

TMJ. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/content/tmj. Updated December 2010. Accessed February 22, 2017.

TMJ. American Dental Association Mouth Healthy website. Available at: http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/t/tmj. Accessed February 22, 2017.

TMJ (temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders). National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website. Available at: https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/oralhealth/Topics/TMJ/TMJDisorders.htm. Updated April 2015. Accessed February 22, 2017.



Last reviewed February 2017 by Michael Woods, MD FAAP

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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