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TMJ- Temporomandibular Joint Disorder 


Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) is a condition that affects the jaw joint.  Your lower jaw attaches to your skull by muscles and the two temporomandibular joints located near your ears.  Your jaw opens, closes, and moves from side to side.  You use jaw movements when you chew and speak.

Emotional stress and physical stress of nearby structures can cause TMJ.  Teeth grinding and teeth clenching can contribute to TMJ.  Your jaw joint may be painful and move out of place.  TMJ treatment includes relaxation techniques, medications, and mouth guards.  Surgery may be used in some cases, but only as a last resort.

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TMJ can cause headaches, jaw aches, and pain near your ears.  Your pain may become worse when you yawn, open your mouth widely, or chew.  Your jaw muscles may feel tender. 

You may hear a clicking or popping sound when you open and close your mouth.  Your jaws may get stuck or catch in a position when you move them.  You may notice a difference in your bite pattern or the way that your teeth come together when you close your mouth.

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Your dentist can evaluate and diagnose TMJ by review your medical history, dental history, and conducting an examination.  Tell your dentist about your symptoms.  Your dentist will evaluate how far you can open your jaw and move it from side to side.  Your dentist will use a stethoscope to listen for sounds when you open your jaw.  X-rays can provide more information about your jaw structure.

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Treatments for TMJ are aimed at symptom relief.  Your dentist may recommend muscle-relaxant, pain relieving, or anti-inflammatory medications.  If you clench or grind your teeth, your dentist can make you a mouthguard to wear at night.  It can be helpful to learn relaxation techniques or receive counseling to reduce stress.  Jaw surgery may be appropriate when all other options have failed.

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit