Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ)
What is TMJ dysfunction?
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that attaches the lower jaw (mandible) to the skull bone. Each person has one on each side of their face just in front of the ears.
These joints are the most complex of the body; during their movements, they must open, close, slide forward, to one side and the other and, in a synchronized way. TMJ’s are made up of muscles, blood vessels, nerves, ligaments and bones.
Moreover, as for the other joints, they are also covered with cartilage. An articular disc separates the mandible and the skull bone by preventing the friction between the two surfaces during movements of the jaw. The disc absorbs the pressure generated by chewing and redistributes it in the joint area. When all components of the TMJ work in harmony, it allows one to chew, talk, yawn, short, use their jaw properly.
If there is lack of coordination between the 2 joints, the articular disc may be displaced or damaged and prevents the normal and harmonious functioning of the jaw. This is called dysfunction or disorders of the temporomandibular joint.