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What is TMJ?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 18 September 2016
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The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the skull’s temporal bone to the mandible. There is one TMJ located on each side of the head, right in front of the ear. Used every time a person chews, swallows, or talks, it is one of the most exercised joints in the human body.

To find your TMJ, place a couple of fingers in front of your ear, right on top of the slight bump you feel in that area. Next, open and close your mouth completely a few times. The joint you feel moving beneath your fingers is your TMJ.

The abbreviation TMJ is used not only to indicate the joint itself, but also to refer to a number of disorders involving the joint. Many individuals experience temporomandibular joint disorders that include such symptoms as pain, headaches, earaches, popping noises, clicking, toothaches, and difficulty extending the jaw completely. Some individuals with TMJ disorders experience soreness or constant aching, while others report sharp pains.

Millions of people throughout the United States and around the world suffer from TMJ disorders. In these people, the temporomandibular joint fails to function as expected, causing pain that may extend not only to the face, but also to the neck and head. Some individuals with TMJ disorders report pain that radiates all the way to the shoulders.

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There are many factors that can lead to TMJ disorders. The habitual clenching and grinding of the teeth can cause such problems, because grinding and clenching motions place extra stress on the cartilage that lines the joint. Chewing gum for hours at a time on a daily basis may have the same effect. Essentially, this repetitive motion continually works the joint and does not allow for any recovery time.

An improper bite can also lead to TMJ disorders, causing the joint to work too hard. Likewise, habitually chewing on one side of the mouth may cause problems as well. Even poor posture may contribute to temporomandibular joint issues, straining the muscles of the face that support the action of the joint. Stress, fatigue, and unhealthy dietary habits may make problems with the joint worse.

Some causes of TMJ symptoms are not behavior-related at all. Sometimes, arthritis and structural problems may lead to TMJ disorders. Fractures can cause problems as well.

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anon70751
Post 3

I have also been having the same problems with ear problems, headaches, and also severe headaches. I suffered with this for about a year and a half. I even went to a specialist and they found nothing.

After going to the dentist complaining of a terrible toothache, he found the problem -- or so i thought. My wisdom teeth have to be pulled. I haven't had it done but will in a few days. I hope this works. this is very painful to deal with.

ivanka
Post 2

I used to know somebody whose one side of the jaw would get dislocated. A doctor would have to place it in the right position again.

It used to happen usually when she would yawn, somehow opening wide her mouth would separate the joint. To avoid yawning she used to keep candy in her mouth most of the time.

v123
Post 1

Hello:

I have been diagnosed with vertigo. I have been suffering with this full throttle 1 1/2 years. I have had an MRI and a CT scan, both came back normal. However, I am still suffering from an inner ear problem that feels very heavy,sometimes there is a high pitch noise (ringing), headaches and pain on my left side from my neck down to my left shoulder and below (it is my left ear that pains me). Is it possible that TMJ causes vertigo?

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