Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)

The TMJ or “Jaw Joint” is a hinge joint allowing jaw opening and side to side movement when chewing, speaking, swallowing or yawning.

Disorders of the TMJ are often complicated. There are many terms used to describe disorders associated with the TMJ. The best description is Temporomandibular Dysfunction (TMD) as this encompasses disorders of the Temporomandibular Joint and the other structures involved in providing sensation and movement to the jaws.

These disorders may have an obvious cause such as arthritis or other pathology, or be due to a less obvious cause such as clenching or grinding of the teeth at night, which most patients are not aware they are doing.

TMD causes symptoms such as:

  • Pain
  • Clicking
  • Grating noises
  • Locking
  • Popping

And can be associated with:

  • Ear pain
  • Headache
  • Facial pain and swelling

Diagnosis of these problems involve:

  • A thorough history
  • Clinical examination
  • X-rays and sometimes a CT and/or MRI scan

Treatment of the Problems

Treatment is the same as for any other joint in the body and ranges from rest, soft diet and physiotherapy to arthroscopy of the joint and ultimately to open joint surgery that may involve reconstruction or total joint replacement with an artificial jaw joint – similar to total hip replacement.