The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) slides and pivots, enabling the lower jaw to move to and from the skull. If the joint pivots during the opening, closing or lateral movement of the jaw, both the TMJ and chewing muscles become affected. This may lead to a temporomandibular disorder (TMD).
- Earache without the presence of infection
- Intense jaw pain in the morning that abates as the day progresses
- Pain when chewing, biting down or yawning
- Cracking noise when opening and closing the mouth
- Difficulty opening and closing the mouth
- Blocked or stiff jaw when talking, yawning or eating
- Tooth sensitivity not linked to any dental problems
Most experts believe that mental or physical tasks, such as a strenuous effort or stressful situations, can lead to or aggravate a TMD. The disorder is essentially caused by muscle overexertion linked to the gritting or grinding one’s teeth (bruxism).
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