The TMJ or temporomandibular joint is the small joint located directly in front of the ear. This joint allows for movement of the lower jaw during opening and closing. TMJ disorders, dysfunction, and TMD are terms that describe a malfunction or problem related to this joint and its associated components, mainly its muscles and ligaments.
As you open and close during chewing, speaking, and swallowing this complex joint and its associated muscles are put in function, When all the elements are in harmony this joint operates smoothly and without pain.
However, an abnormality in this system may result in difficulty in opening, clicking, popping or grating noises, and in many cases moderate to severe pain.
Patients who suffer with these symptoms are diagnosed as having a TMJ disorder.
Treatment of TMJ dysfunction varies depending of the diagnosis and degree of dysfunction. They may include jaw exercises, cold or hot pack applications, medications, electrical stimulation, biofeedback, and others. The use of a night guard or occlusal splint is in many cases extremely effective in reducing pain and restoring normal function. In most cases non-surgical modalities are quite effective. Patients are generally able to regain normal function with the absence of pain.