What are TMJs?
Your temporomandibular joints, or TMJs, are the joints located just in front of your ears, and they hold your lower jaw to your skull. When one or both jaw joints become misaligned, they create stress in the joints and surrounding muscles. The muscles become inflamed from working overtime to hold the jaws in the proper position, which increases stress on the surrounding tissues and nerves.
There is no definitive cause of TMJ disorder, however, a variety of factors may contribute. These include bruxism (clenching or grinding teeth), malocclusion (misalignment), injury, arthritis, heredity, and hormones. If you have TMJ disorder, you may experience pain in your jaw, teeth, mouth, face, ears, neck, or shoulders. Symptoms vary greatly from person to person, but can include:
- Joint pain in the jaw that may be associated with a clicking or popping sound when chewing, speaking, or yawning
- Inability to fully open/close the mouth
- Pain in the face or ears
- Headaches, including chronic migraines
- Tooth pain from bruxism
- Neck, shoulder, or back pain
- Tingling in fingers or toes
Note that clicking or popping in the jaw by itself can be attributed to a number of different sources, not necessarily TMJ disorder. Our doctors can provide a diagnosis of your individual symptoms with a consultation at our Mountain View dental office.