The TMJ is the joint that connect your jaw to your lower skull. TMJ disorder is caused by chronic stress on the TMJ. Common causes of TMJ disorder include:
- Bruxism (teeth grinding or clenching)
- A misaligned bite
- Previous dental work
- Trauma or injury to the teeth or jaw
- Inflammation caused by illness (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis)
TMJ disorder can produce an array of symptoms. One of the most common is pain, soreness or tenderness around the TMJ, especially when opening the mouth. Excessive tooth wear caused by bruxism is another common symptom. Chronic teeth grinding or clenching of the jaw while sleeping can also cause you to experience headaches, especially first thing in the morning. Other symptoms include clicking or popping noises when opening the jaw, or the jaw locking in place.
If left untreated, TMJ disorder can interfere with daily life. TMJ pain can limit the range of motion of the mouth, making it difficult to chew and speak properly. Excessive tooth wear can open the door to an array of serious dental issues. And because the jaw muscles and joints are connected to those in your neck and back, it is not uncommon for some individuals with TMJ disorder to experience neck and back pain, which can lead to posture problems.