The temporomandibular joint (TMJ), located just in front of the lower part of the ear, allows the lower jaw to move. The TMJ is a ball-and-socket joint, just like the hip or shoulder.
TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorder, means that the hinge connecting the upper and lower jaw isn't working properly. This hinge is one of the most complex joints in the body, responsible for moving the lower jaw forward, backward and side-to-side.
Just as there are no established guidelines for diagnosing temporomandibular disorder, there also is no single best treatment. Most experts agree, however, that conservative, nonsurgical therapy is the right way to begin. Surgery and other invasive treatments, such as injections, can create more problems and are best left as a last resort.
Do you notice clicking or popping when you open your mouth? Is it difficult or painful to open your mouth? Does your jaw occasionally lock, so it is stuck open or closed? If so, you should see your dentist for a consultation and examination. You may have a temporomandibular disorder (TMD).
You may have read articles in newspapers and magazines about "TMD" — temporomandibular (jaw) disorders, also called "TMJ syndrome." Perhaps you have even felt pain sometimes in your jaw area, or maybe your dentist or physician has told you that you have TMD.
Temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) describe several problems that affect your temporomandibular joint (TMJ), or jaw joint, and the muscles of the face that help you to chew. If you place your fingers just in front of your ears and open your mouth, the movement you feel is your TMJ.