“TMJ”can occur from a traumatic blow to the joint(s), an improper bite relationship between the upper and lower teeth, or a combination of the two. The problem can also be magnified with certain general health conditions, such as osteo and rheumatoid arthritis. So, when someone says that they have “TMJ,” they are really saying that they have symptoms having to do with their temporomandibular joints and adjacent areas. This includes the surrounding muscles, nerves, ligaments and blood vessels, and can manifest in head, facial, neck and back pain, migraines and popping and clicking TMJ’s. It can also be evidenced by other signs and symptoms such as tooth wear, ringing in the ears and vertigo (balance problems). The correct term for this affliction is Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction, but even dentists themselves use the slang term, “TMJ,” when referring to this disorder.


“TMJ” is a common acronym term for an affliction that plagues a large segment of the population. Actually, everyone has two TMJ’s, or temporomandibular joints. They connect the lower jaw (mandible) to the upper jaw (temporal bone). They are very unique to all the other joints in the body, as they move in and out of their sockets, or “dislocate” so to speak, during normal functions such as chewing, speaking and yawning. All other body joints normally remain within their sockets during motion, and if they dislocate, it is a very traumatic event. The TMJ’s are a ball and socket type joint (condyle and fossa) that can move in many directions during normal function. In a healthy functioning mouth, however they do have a stable “home base” position (left image) when the teeth are closed together. They can, however, also be forced to operate out of their normal, healthy positions, in this case, the cartilage being dislocated in a forward position (right image).