What is temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome?

 Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome is a disorder of the jaw muscles and nerves caused by injury to the temporomandibular joint. The temporomandibular joint is the connection between the jawbone to the skull. The injured temporomandibular joint leads to pain with chewing, clicking, and popping of the jaw; swelling on the sides of the face; nerve inflammation; headaches; tooth grinding; Eustachian tube dysfunction; and sometimes dislocation of the temporomandibular joint. Temporomandibular joint syndrome is also known as the temporomandibular joint disorder.

Dr. Cantwell is an active member of the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain (AACP). Our team includes dental assistants who have completed the Certified TMJ Assistant Program through the AACP to provide you with the highest level of care possible.


What are the risk factors for TMJ syndrome?

There are several risk factors for TMJ syndrome:

  • Poor posture in the neck and upper back muscles may lead to neck strain and abnormalities of jaw muscle function.
  • Stress may increase muscle tension and jaw clenching.
  • Women aged 18 to 44 have increased risk.
  • Patients with other chronic inflammatory disorders and painful musculoskeletal conditions have increased risk.
  • People with jaw trauma or poorly positioned teeth have increased risk.
  • People who have a genetic predisposition to pain sensitivity and increased stress responses may be more susceptible.


What causes TMJ syndrome? 

The causes of TMJ syndrome are not completely understood. Multiple factors contribute to the muscle tightness and dysfunction that characterize this condition. It is not clear whether some of these causes directly lead to TMJ syndrome or if they are a result of the disorder. Causes may include

  • misalignment (malocclusion) of or trauma to the teeth or jaw
  •  Teeth grinding (bruxism)
  • stress or anxiety
  • Arthritis or other inflammatory musculoskeletal disorders
  • excessive gum chewing

 Our office can help find a solution to resolve your TMJ issues. A TMJ splint can be fabricated to help relive the discomfort caused by TMJ.


What is the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain?

The AACFP was founded in 1985 and is recognized as the largest professional organization for professionals interested in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of patients who suffer from craniofacial pain, temporomandibular disorders and sleep disorders in dentistry.