TMJ is the short form for the temporomandibular joint. This is the joint that connects your jawbone to your skull on both sides of your jaw. TMJ is made up of several muscles that can easily get damaged or fatigued, causing pain and discomfort in the joint. Any form of TMJ dysfunction will prevent you from performing important functions with your mouth, like chewing, laughing, and talking.
But what causes TMJ disorders? Although the exact cause of your TMJ disorder (TMD) is usually tricky to determine, there are certain risk factors that you need to be aware of when you are dealing with this problem. Continue reading to know what increases your risk of TMJ disorders.
Causes of TMJ Disorders
First of all, you need to understand that your TMJ is made up of several components, including the cartilages covering the bones that interact with the joint and tiny shock-absorbing disks that separate these bones. These disks help to ensure that the joint moves smoothly. If the disk erodes or shifts from its normal position, you won’t be able to use your mouth correctly. The same case happens when the cartilages are damaged or when an impact damages the TMJ.
The main factors that increase your risk of developing a TMJ disorder include:
- Different types of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis
- Jaw injury
- Constant clenching of your teeth or continuous chewing
- Connective tissue illnesses that may affect your TMJ
Several medical conditions increase the risk of TMD, such as misaligned bites or teeth, facial and jaw deformities, and history of the jaw or facial trauma.
What Are the Symptoms of TMJ Disorders?
Different people experience TMJ disorders differently, depending on the cause. However, several common signs and symptoms should let you know that your TMJ has a problem. They include:
- Pain and tenderness of the jaw
- Pain either or both of your temporomandibular joints
- Aching in and around the ear
- Difficulty chewing or talking
- Facial pain around the TMJ
- Locked TMJ, which makes it difficult for you to open or close your mouth
Sometimes TMJ disorders can cause a clicking sound in the joint, especially when you open or close your mouth. They can also lead to a grating sensation when you open your mouth or try to chew. Most of these symptoms should prompt you to see a doctor immediately, but if you do not have pain or a locked jaw with clicking sounds, you probably don’t have to see a doctor for a TMJ disorder.