The temporomandibular joint, also known as the TMJ, is the joint relating the lower jaw bone to the base of the skull. Along with the muscles and ligaments in the head, this joint helps when the jaw moves, almost in a similar way as other joints in the body. Normally, both the right and left sides of the jaw will move at the same time when the jaw is opened. Any deviation from this normal movement due to pain or abnormal sounds like clicking or a crunching sound may indicate a disorder of the TMJ. Temporomandibular joint disorder may also manifest as an earache or headache originating from the side of the head, or even a locked or stiff jaw upon eating or yawning.
Several factors cause TMD, including injuries to the jaw and joint diseases such as arthritis. Studies show that stress can also cause TMD, but are still inconclusive as to whether the other way around is true too: that TMD causes stress, which then aggravates the TMD symptoms. Other factors that cause TMD that we can help you with are an uneven bite due to missing or misaligned teeth or ill-fitting dentures, and heavy day or night grinding.
Treatments can range from a simple pain reliever medication coupled with practicing stress management and relaxation techniques, to having a biteplane or nightguard fabricated, depending on how severe the problem is. As this condition often comes and goes, especially recurring in times when the patient feels most stressed, it is best to have a regular checkup so that the TMJ is monitored.