What is TMJ?

TMJ, or the Temporomandibular joint, is primarily used for chewing and speaking, and its associated muscles allow the jaw to open, close, protrude, retract and deviate laterally.

There are six dimensions in working with the TMJ joint:

  • Vertical
  • Lateral
  • Anterior-Posterior Movement
  • Yaw
  • Pitch
  • Roll

If you don’t recognize any of these 6 dimensions, you will never be able to treat TMJ.

The joint itself flexes the jaw as dictated by the clenching and changing of the teeth position. As the joint is very small, it is easily susceptible to damage.  Since TMJ is such a vital joint connecting the jaw and the head, the pain might be noticed elsewhere such as the neck or shoulders. TMJ also commonly causes severe jaw pain.  TMJ is the only joint in our body that is a synovial joint. This means that the space in the joint is only connected by muscle. It’s also the only joint in our body that connects to another joint through a bone. These two connected joints are the left temporomandibular joint and the right temporomandibular joint.

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Causes of TMJ Pain:
• Trauma
• Excessive physical stress
• Arthritis of the TMJ
• Whiplash injury
• Postural abnormality
• Ligamentous laxity
• Psychosocial distress (stress)
• Congenital Jaw abnormalities
• Medications
• Bruxism
• Muscles
• Neurologic
• Vascular
• Otic
• Occlusion

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