The jaw or Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is pain arising from the joint between the temporal bone in your skull and your lower jaw bone – the mandible. You can feel it if you place a finger just in front of your ear lobe and then open and close your mouth. If you feel both sides at the same time you will probably feel quite a difference in how the two joints each side actually move!
You can see from the diagram on the right that there a disc in the middle of the joint – just like the discs in your back and nerves that can radiate pain up into your head. These structures can both cause headaches or into your neck or along your jaw. Pain is often caused by clenching the joint too much and when you are anxious the large muscle overlying the joint – the masseter muscle – tightens and causes increased pressure in the joint and therefore pain.
Pain can manifest itself as pain directly over that joint on one side or both or maybe by giving you ear pain either in or around the ear. You may experience pain when chewing or difficulty in chewing or aching sensation in your face or even sudden locking of the joint when it ‘sticks’ and you find it difficult to either open or close your mouth.
We can help to relieve these problems and give you advice to stop it from returning or refer you on if you need a mouth guard to help relieve pressure on your teeth.