The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jaw to the skull’s temporal bone. This joint performs just about any facial movement involving your jaw – from eating and drinking to speaking or yawning. If any of these common functions are causing you pain or stiffness you could have a temporamandibular disorder, or TMJ.
The causes of TMJ can include anxiety, nighttime teeth grinding or frequent clenching of the jaw.
You might be experiencing TMJ if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Mouth is painful from speaking, chewing or yawning
- Eating and chewing causes you pain
- Your jaw feels like it is locked open or closed
- You have pain in your jaws or popping sounds in your ears
- You hear clicking when opening your mouth
- Bruxism, which is teeth grinding whether you’re awake or asleep
Most of these unpleasant symptoms can often be linked to other health concerns. Teeth grinding in particular can be problematic mainly because it can lead to further problems. Lengthy periods of teeth grinding may cause teeth enamel to erode and expose dentin, which is a natural substance that is vulnerable to tooth decay. Pain from hot or cold foods or beverages is another uncomfortable symptom that may result from continuous teeth grinding.