TMJ Pain: Dysfunction of the TMJ


Dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) or masticatory organ is also known as craniomandibular dysfunction (CMD). Sufferers are afflicted by chronic facial pain, and especially mandibular joint pain, when speaking or chewing. The condition can have many causes, which are precisely determined in the course of treatment.


Symptoms can manifest individually and in different forms. Referred pain is often perceived in the whole body, so temporomandibular joint disorder may not be diagnosed immediately.

However, there is a range of typical symptoms that point to jaw malposition:

  • Noises from the jaw joint (e.g. clicks in the jawbone)
  • Restricted movement in the lower jaw
  • Earache
  • Persistent headache
  • Neck and shoulder tension
  • Tension in the back muscles
  • Redness and swelling of the jaw joints

Following detailed diagnosis, the causes of jaw pain can usually be treated effectively.

The condition is normally caused by stress on the jaw joint or masticatory muscles; it is often linked to diseases of the teeth or jaw rather than a single disruptive factor. In many cases, oral and maxillo-facial surgery can deliver efficient help through graduated treatment strategies.

The most common reasons for mandibular joint pain are:

  • Jaw malposition (craniomandibular dysfunction)
  • Poorly fitted dentures
  • Gaps in teeth and associated tooth migration
  • Grinding of teeth (bruxism)
  • Osteoarthritis in the jaw joints

Treatment options range from physical and medicinal therapy to orthodontic and maxillary surgery. A complex treatment concept also includes functional analysis.

This can be used to diagnose functional disorders of the jaw and the entire mouth area. In CMD therapy especially, functional analysis provides revealing insights. An individual therapy plan can only be compiled after functional analysis has been carried out.

In most cases, occlusal splints (also known as bite splints) can significantly ease mandibular joint pain. Given that teeth grinding is generally directly linked to craniomandibular dysfunction, the grinding itself and the jaw malposition can be treated together.


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