The temporomandibular joints are located just in front of the ears, where the lower jaw meets the skull. You use them almost continuously in chewing, swallowing, breathing and talking. This constant use, in combination with the sensitivity and small size of the area, makes the TMJ* especially prone to trouble.
TMJ problems are caused by the lack of harmony among joints, muscles and teeth. An incorrect bite can throw the TMJ out of alignment. If your jaw is even slightly out of place, it can strain the surrounding muscles and cause a tension headache. The symptoms are often triggered by emotional stress, which can increase the grinding of the teeth.
The symptoms of TMJ seem unrelated to one another and are often mistaken for symptoms of other diseases. As a result, TMJ problems are hard to diagnose and effective treatment is often delayed.
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.
Jaw and tooth malformations can lead to TMD.
Stress may increase muscle tension and jaw clenching.
Women 18-44 years of age have increased risk.
Patients with other chronic inflammatory arthritis have increased risk.
Motor vehicle accident or other face trauma can cause temporomandibular disorder. (TMD)
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