Temporomandibular Dysfunction

Many different types of pain and dysfunction fall under the umbrella condition known as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction. The temporomandibular joint connects the mandible (jaw bone) to the skull . The most common symptoms of this condition are pain and impaired mobility in the jaw region, thus impairing a person’s ability to chew, speak, or open and close the mouth. Some people suffering from this issue may also hear popping, clicking, or grinding noises in the TMJ when the jaw moves. Other symptoms include a feeling of tiredness or fatigue in the muscles of the face, facial swelling, toothaches, dizziness, and ringing in the ears. The pain can be temporary or chronic. Approximately 20% to 30% of adults experience the symptoms of TMJ dysfunction to some degree. It is especially common among females in the 20 to 40-year-old age range. There are many possible contributing factors associated with TMJ dysfunction. These include trauma or injury, excessive clenching or grinding of the teeth, emotional stress, and genetics. Certain other conditions or factors also may cause or worsen symptoms of TMJ dysfunction, including rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Treatments for TMJ dysfunction include relaxation and behavioral therapy to alleviate stress, use of bite plates or other intra-oral appliances, administration of pain-management medications, physical therapy, and, in severe cases, surgery.