The Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ) Georgia Group is a group of physicians and healthcare professionals in Georgia that aim to educate people about TMJ and TMJD.
About TMJ, TMJD, and TMD
TMJD and TMD stand for Tempomandibular Joint Disorder; TMJ stands for Tempo-Mandubular Joint, and these three are all commonly used interchangeably to describe the pain, discomfort, or dysfunction of the TMJ.
Located in front of the lowest portion of the ear, the TM-Joint actually connects with the temporal bone that is in the skull and the lower jaw (mandible). Many movements are enabled by this joint. It’s what allows us to move the joint up and down, in circular grinding motions, or side-to-side, and this is the reason we are able to chew, talk, whistle, sing, make facial expressions, etc.
What are some TMJ Symptoms & Causes?
Many people have TMJ symptoms at some point in their lives, but when the issue becomes progressively worse, it starts interfering with everyday life. Some symptoms include:
- jaw pain and headaches
- ear pain
- bite problems (mismatched bites, difficulty chewing)
- locking jaws
- clicking and popping when the jaw moves
- neck or face pains
- shoulder pain or fatigue
For some, these conditions are only slight annoyances. For others, they can be debilitating and incredibly painful.
There is a lot the medical and scientific communities don’t know about the exact causes of TMJ, but it is agreed that there is not one single cause. Here are some of the causes that have been suggested.
- Bruxism: This is a disorder of movement that happens during sleep.
- Estrogen: Estrogen inbalances can often lead to TMJ.
- Autoimmune: Jaw pain and bite changes can sometimes be a result of seronegative arthritis, Reiters syndrome, Lupus, Sjogrens, rhematoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis.
- Joint laxity: The disc can easily slide out of position due to elongated ligaments.
- Trauma: Joint strain or sprain can be caused by the trauma of a fall, blow to the chin, or wisdom tooth extraction.
- Sleep: Because it’s so important to get seven to eight hours of quality sleep every night, a lack of good sleep can lead to pain and fatigue.
- Arthritis: Arthritis can cause inflammation, which can be localized to the jaw.
- Dental Work: Dental work can actually cause bite problems.
- Emotional Stress/Anger Issues: Sometimes emotional stress and anger can cause people to clench their jaw muscles or grind their teeth.