Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Quick GuideDental Health: Top Problems in Your Mouth

Dental Health: Top Problems in Your Mouth

What causes TMJ syndrome?

The causes of TMJ syndrome are not completely understood. Multiple factors contribute to the muscle tightness and dysfunction that characterize this condition. It is not clear whether some of these causes directly lead to TMJ syndrome or if they are a result of the disorder. Causes may include

  • misalignment (malocclusion) of or trauma to the teeth or jaw,
  • teeth grinding (bruxism),
  • poor posture,
  • stress or anxiety,
  • arthritis and other inflammatory musculoskeletal disorders,
  • orthodontic braces, and
  • excessive gum chewing.

What are TMJ syndrome symptoms and signs?

The main symptom of TMJ syndrome is pain in the jaw joint. This joint is located just in front of the ear, and pain associated with TMJ syndrome may involve the face, eye, forehead, ear, or neck. Signs and symptoms of TMJ syndrome include the following:

  • Pain or tenderness in the jaw, especially at the area of the joint
  • Popping/clicking of the jaw
  • Pain that feels like a toothache
  • Ear pain or sounds of cracking in the ears
  • Ringing or popping sounds in the ears (tinnitus) or a sense of fullness in the ears
  • Headaches, including migraines
  • Blurred vision
  • Tight, stiff, or sore jaw or neck muscles
  • Muscle spasm in the jaw
  • Facial pain, mouth pain, cheek pain, or chin numbness or tingling
  • Pain at the base of the tongue
  • Pain, swelling, or a lump in the temple area
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Shoulder pain
  • Locking or dislocation of the jaw (usually after widely yawning), referred to as lockjaw
  • Dizziness or vertigo Continue Reading
Reviewed on 3/29/2016
References
REFERENCES:

American College of Prosthodontists. "Temporomandibular Joint Disorder & Facial/Jaw Pain." <http://www.gotoapro.org/temporomandibular-joint/>.

Scrivani, J., and Noshir R. Mehta. "Temporomandibular Disorders in Adults." UpToDate.com. Aug. 2015. <http://www.uptodate.com/contents/temporomandibular-disorders-in-adults?source=search_result&search=tmj&selectedTitle=1~77>.

"Study Evaluates Risk Factors for Chronic Temporomandibular Joint and Muscle Disoders." National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. 10 Nov. 2011.

"TMJ." Amerian Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. Dec. 2010.

The TMJ Association. "Arthroscopy." June 18, 2014. <http://tmj.org/site/page?pageId=263>.

"TMJ Disorders." National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Aug. 2013.

TMJ Hope. "TMJD Pain Management." <http://www.tmjhope.org/tmj-treatment/pain-management/>.

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