The joint connecting your lower jaw(mandible) to the skull(cranium) is called the “Temporo-mandibular joint” (TMJ). The joint is bilateral, located in the region in front of your ears. The joint consists of two bones (temporal bone and mandibular condyle) and an intermediate articulating disk. Temporo-mandibular joint disorder includes an array of signs and symptoms involving the TMJ and the muscles associated with it. The following five signs indicate a temporo-mandibular joint disorder.
1. Clicking: If you feel a click, knocking, grating or popping noise in the temporomandibular joint area, it is suggestive of a TMD.
2. Pain: Tenderness in the joint area or its associated muscles during rest or while opening/closing the mouth indicates TMD. Pain in TMJ might sometimes be referred to the head and may result in a headache.
3. Reduced mouth opening: inability to open mouth more than usual is a sign of the temporomandibular joint disorder.
4. Locking of the jaw: if your jaw gets locked while yawning or talking it might be because of a discrepancy in the temporo-mandibular joint disk.
5. Difficulty in chewing: difficulty in chewing, pain in the joint while chewing is often a result of TMD.
TMD is usually self- diagnosed and can be supplemented by radiographs recorded by your dentist.
TMD can be resolved by physiotherapy, home management like cold/heat compress.
Role of Orthodontist
In many cases, your dentist will refer you to an orthodontist who will give you a mouth-guard and perform orthodontic therapy to correct the underlying cause for your condition.