More than fifteen percent of American adults suffer from chronic facial pain. Some common symptoms include:

  • pain in or around the ear
  • tenderness of the jaw
  • clicking or popping noises when opening the mouth
  • headaches and neck aches
  • difficulty in chewing or speaking

Two joints and several jaw muscles make it possible to open and close your mouth. They work together when you chew, speak, and swallow. These structures include muscles and ligaments, as well as the jaw bone, the mandible (lower jaw) with two joints, the TMJs (temporomandibular joints).

The TM joint is one of the most complex joints in the body. Located on each side of the head, these joints work together and can make many different movements, including a combination of rotating and translocational or gliding actions, used when chewing and speaking.

Several muscles help open and close the mouth. They control the lower jaw (mandible) as it moves forward, backward, and side-to-side. Both TM joints are involved in these movements. Each TM joint has a disc between the ball and socket. The disc cushions the load while enabling the jaw to open widely and perform rotating and translocational movements. Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working together properly may result in a painful TMJ disorder.

TMJ problems are more common in women of childbearing age and older adults. There are many possible causes of TMJ/TMD pain and dysfunction. Some of the most common are:

  • arthritis
  • dislocation or injury
  • improper alignment in the way your teeth bite together
  • stress

There are several ways that TMJ disorders may be treated. Dr. Holsteen will talk with you about what type of treatment is available for your particular problem or may recommend that you see a specialist.