Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders


The temporomandibular joint (TMJ), functioning as a sliding hinge, connects the jawbone to the skull, with one joint located on each side of the jaw. TMJ disorders, falling under the broader category of temporomandibular disorders or TMD, can lead to discomfort in the jaw joint and the muscles responsible for jaw movement.

Identifying the precise cause of an individual’s TMJ disorder can be challenging. The discomfort may stem from various factors, including genetics, arthritis, or injuries to the jaw. Although clenching or grinding of the teeth (bruxism) is common among individuals experiencing jaw pain, not everyone who clenches or grinds their teeth will develop TMJ disorders.

Generally, the symptoms associated with TMJ disorders are temporary and can be alleviated through self-care or non-invasive treatments. While surgery is considered a last resort, only pursued after other treatments have failed, it may be beneficial for certain individuals with TMJ disorders.

TMJ disorders are categorized into three main types by healthcare professionals:

  • Disorders affecting the jaw joints.
  • Disorders involving the muscles used for chewing.
  • Headaches stemming from TMD.


The following signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders includes:

  • Jaw pain or tenderness.
  • TMJ pain.
  • Pain around your ear.
  • Difficulty chewing or pain while chewing
  • Lock jaw, difficult to open or close the mouth.
  • Popping or clicking sound of jaw.
  • Headache or migraine.
  • Tinnitus or ringing in the ears.
  • Changes in the teeth formation, or malocclusion.

The patient may generally don’t require treatment for a TMJ disorder if your jaw clicking isn’t accompanied by any pain or movement restriction.

If you can’t fully open or close your jaw or if you have ongoing jaw pain or tenderness, seek medical attention. Possible causes and treatments for the problem might be discussed with your healthcare provider, dentist, or TMJ specialist.


Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder arises from a multitude of factors or their interplay rather than stemming from a singular cause. This condition involves the intricate joint, which facilitates both sliding and hinge-like movements, with its interacting bone sections covered by cartilage and separated by a thin, shock-absorbing disk to ensure smooth operation.

The following cause may include:

  • Injury to the jaw that cause fracture, dislocation, or moves out of its proper alignment.
  • Joint arthritis that damage the cartilage.
  • Malocclusion is the term used to describe when teeth don’t fit together perfectly.
  • Teeth grinding or clenching (bruxism).

Risk factors

The following factors may increase the likelihood of having TMJ disorders:

  • Different kinds of arthritis, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Jaw injury.
  • Particular conditions of connective tissue that might lead to issues affecting the temporomandibular joint.
  • Prolonged teeth clenching or grinding.