Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Pain

Temporomanidular Joint diagramThe movement of opening your jaw and shutting it is carried out by the TMJ. It connects the temporal bone (side of the skull) and the mandible (the lower jaw). It can give rise to pain over the joint, immediately in front of the ear, and pain can also radiate elsewhere. The pain may be sharp and searing or it may be dull and constant. It often causes spasms in the adjacent muscles that are attached to the bones of the skull, face, and jaws. Then pain can be felt at the side of the head (the temple), the cheek, the lower jaw, and the teeth.

There are a few other symptoms besides pain that TMJ can cause. It can make popping, clicking, or grinding sounds when the jaws are opened wide. Or the jaw locks wide open (dislocated). At the other extreme, TMJ can prevent the jaws from opening fully. Some people get ringing in their ears from TMJ.

Damage to the TMJ is caused by:

  • Trauma to the jaw
  • Teeth grinding (Bruxism)
  • Excessive chewing
  • Stress
  • Improper bite or a positional fault of the joint
  • Arthritis
  • Disc damage


Treatment for TMJ