TMJ stands for temporal-mandibular joint. Temporal, as in temple area of skull; mandibular as in mandible or lower jaw; joint as in where the head and jaw meet. Problems in this joint may be caused by a misalignment of the teeth, trauma, or excess muscle tension. Aside from the two bones that meet there, cartilage buffers them and five muscles are involved in the area. If something goes wrong a good deal of trouble can result.
Problems in this area can cause:
Contributing factors of TMJ disorders include a history of orthodontics, trauma, and bruxism. Bruxism is a condition in which you grind, gnash or clench your teeth. If you have bruxism, you may unconsciously clench your teeth when you're awake (awake bruxism) or clench or grind them during sleep (sleep bruxism). Sleep bruxism is considered a sleep-related movement disorder. People who clench or grind their teeth during sleep are more likely to have other sleep disorders, such as snoring and pauses in breathing (sleep apnea). Mild bruxism may not require treatment. However, in some people, bruxism can be frequent and severe enough to lead to jaw disorders, headaches, damaged teeth and other problems.
Signs and symptoms of bruxism may include: