TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. This joint acts as a sliding hinge that connects your jaw to your skull.

While everybody has a temporomandibular joint, when somebody says that they have TMJ, they are generally referring to a disorder of that joint commonly referred to as “lockjaw.”

A disorder in the TMJ is often associated with pain or discomfort. It may be difficult for your doctor or dentist to identify the exact cause of your pain, but there are several potential culprits:

  • Arthritis

  • Genetics

  • Jaw injury

  • Teeth grinding or clenching

Fortunately, most cases of TMJ can be treated without invasive procedures or operations and is often temporary.


While TMJ is associated with several symptoms, patients may experience just a few as no case is typical.

  • Jaw pain or tenderness

  • Pain in one or both temporomandibular joints

  • Aching facial pain

  • Locking of the joint that makes it difficult to open or
    close your mouth

  • Aching pain near the ear

  • Difficulty chewing

  • Popping or grating when chewing or moving your jaw

When You Need a Dentist

While TMJ is generally temporary and there are many possible solutions, you should consider seeing your dentist if your pain is persistent or if you are unable to open or close your jaw completely. Your dentist will be knowledgable about the potential causes and possible treatments of TMJ and will help to guide you on the right path to relief.

TMJ Causes

Your temporomandibular joint is a sliding hinge between your jaw and skull. In the middle of that joint is a small disk that helps to absorb shocks to the jaw.
TMJ can develop into a disorder if:

  • The disk is damaged or deteriorates

  • The disk moves out of alignment

  • The joint is damaged by injury or arthritis

While these causes are fairly straightforward, there are several other options that will need to be explored by a medical professional in order to ensure that you receive the appropriate care and treatment.