Pointing to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) on a model school

TMJ Disorder

The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is the joint that connects your skull to your jawbone, acting as a sliding hinge whenever you open and close your mouth. It’s not a joint we think about often––until it starts causing pain, that is.

When the TMJ causes chronic pain, it’s called TMJ disorder (TMD) or TMJ syndrome. This disorder can cause significant pain and even impact a patient’s quality of life. This is because, while the TMJ is a small joint, its location is near sensitive tissue, which is why it can cause an outsized amount of pain.

Symptoms of TMD include:

  • Pain in the face, jaw, and temporomandibular joints
  • Malocclusion, often leading to tooth damage
  • Earaches and tinnitus
  • Migraines and chronic headaches
  • Pain, clicking, and popping of the jaw when eating, yawning, or opening the mouth for any other reason
  • Lockjaw
  • Swelling in the face, particularly in the areas surrounding the joints
  • Muscle tension in the upper shoulders and neck

Treatment for TMD can be difficult, which is why seeing a prosthodontist is recommended. Dr. Valente has specialized training in the anatomy of the jaw, giving him the knowledge to diagnose and treat TMJ disorder. By influencing the jaw to move properly, symptoms can be relieved and tooth damage can be prevented.