TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint and is used to describe dysfunction or disorders related to the joint. "Temporo," refers to the temple area of the skull; "mandibular," refers to the lower jaw; and "joint" is essentially where the head and jaw meet. Problems in this joint may be caused by a trauma, misalignment of the teeth, or excess muscle tension. The two bones that meet at the jaw are buffered by cartilage and five different muscles, so TMJ can cause a variety of troubles.
Common TMJ symptoms:
- Trouble/soreness in opening and closing the mouth
- Clicking or popping of the jaw
- Pain in the jaw muscles
- Soreness in the area, sometimes extending to the face
Dental treatments for the condition can include replacing missing teeth, moving teeth, adjusting the bite, filling gaps between teeth, and more. There is no one solution that is right for all cases. Sometimes a plastic mouthpiece is used to prevent clenching or grinding that is contributing to the problem. If TMJ is left untreated and reaches extremes, surgery may be required to repair the badly damaged joint.