Jaw joint or Temperomandibular Joint is basically a very complex structure where the lower jaw locks inside the upper jaw to provide the movements. They are made up of muscles, tendons and bones and this complex structure is responsible for complex actions of the jaw that includes chewing, yawning, talking and providing such facial expressions like smiling, frowning etc. In all these activities our mouth needs to open and close and that is the basic activity accomplished by the jaws. Any problem that occurs here is termed as Tempero-Mandibular Disorder or TMD.
Usually TMJ problem or TMD occurs due to such reasons like habitual over grinding of teeth, grinding and biting the teeth due to over stress, missing teeth where the equilibrium is not maintained, arthritis in the jaw, accidents / trauma, untreated impacted teeth, etc. What ever might be the cause, the following are the symptoms that has to be closely monitored so that appropriate medical treatment could be sought.
Symptoms of TMJ disorder
1) Weird popping sound that can be heard when opening the mouth for any actions like chewing or yawning. The pop sound is usually painless and is called clicking.
2) The most common symptom is the pain in the jaw joint area.
3) Dislocation of the joint.
4) There can be pain in the neck and shoulder area and near the ears while chewing food.
5) A pain or discomfort when trying to open the mouth wide.
6) The jaw muscles can sometimes become stiff and because of that pain might occur.
7) TMJ disorder is also accompanied by headaches.
8) Sometimes pain in the temple area can also manifest.
When can you visit your Dentist / Doctor
If you observe the clicking sound consistently, it is time to visit the physician / dentist. Do not delay visiting the doctor as it may aggravate the condition. The symptoms quoted above would only aggravate and cause problems if you postpone your visit to the Doctor.