TMJ stands for Temporomandibular joint, or the jaw joint. There are two TMJs, one in front of each ear, connecting the lower jaw (mandible) to the skull. It allows movement up and down, side to side, and forward and back-all the mobility necessary for biting, chewing and swallowing food, for speaking and making facial expressions.
Temporomandibular joint disorder, also known as TMD, or TMJD, is a group of conditions affecting muscles in a jaw and causing pain and inflammation of the temporomandibular joint, which connects the skull to the mandible.
TMJD is a complex set of conditions that cause pain in the area of the jaw joint and associated muscles and muscles and problems using the jaw. Both or just one of the TMJ joints may be affected. TMJ disorders cause tenderness in the jaw, difficulty moving the joint, and facial pain. It can be notice by clicking, popping, and/or grating sound when the lower jaw moves. It also experiences by lockjaw or difficulty opening a mouth all the way.
Causes of TMD usually vary from person to person. The most common cause of TMD is grinding(bruxism) or clenching of the teeth in our sleep. New studies are showing a relationship with bruxism as a protective mechanism against sleep apnea; other contributing factors are injuries in the jaw area, various forms of arthritis, dental procedures, genetics, hormones, low-level infections, auto-immune diseases, and even stretching of the jaw that occurs with inserting a breathing tube before surgery.