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Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

What is it?

Temporomandibular (temp-uh-row-man-dib-u-ler) joint disorder is also called "TMJ." Another name is myofacial (mi-o-fa-shull) pain dysfunction syndrome. TMJ is pain and swelling of the jaw joints. These are the joints in front of the ears that move when you open and close your mouth. TMJ is more common in women who are 20 to 40 years old.


TMJ is usually caused by teeth grinding and tight jaw muscles due to stress. TMJ may also be caused by injury to the jaw, poorly fitting dentures, and arthritis. A "bite" problem may cause TMJ. A bite problem can be caused by upper and lower jaws not lining up correctly. You may have a greater chance of getting TMJ if someone in your family has it.

Signs and Symptoms:

With TMJ, you may feel dull, aching pain on one side of the jaw. This is the area below the ear. It is usually worse when yawning. The pain may move to your ear, head, or shoulder. You may hear a clicking or popping noise when you open your mouth. Your mouth may not open all the way. Your teeth may not line up when you close your mouth.


  • X-rays of your mouth may need to be taken. Your dentist will feel your jaws while you open and close your mouth. Learning jaw exercises may help your jaw relax and lessen pain. You may need to take medicine to lessen pain and swelling of the joint(s), or to help relax your muscles.
  • If you grind your teeth, you may need to wear a mouth guard when you sleep. This will keep you from grinding your teeth. Don't eat hard chewy foods, such as bagels. If your TMJ disorder is serious, you may need surgery.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.