Temporomandibular disorder is simply a jaw joint that is not functioning properly and may be accompanied with pain.
The position of your teeth can affect the position of your jaw joints. Each jaw joint is a ball and socket joint. When functioning properly, the ball and socket do not actually touch because a thin disc of cartilage rides between them. The disc acts as a cushion and allows the joint to move smoothly. Each disc is held in place and guided by muscles and ligaments.
If your bite is not right, as in cases where the following may occur:
deep overbite, lower jaw is too far back, narrow upper jaw or upper front teeth crooked and tipped backwards, can all cause the jaw to become dislocated.
Typically the disc is pulled forward. The lower jaw then has a tendency to go back too far and the top of the lower jaw, which resembles a ball (condyle), presses on the nerves and blood vessels at the back of the socket and causes pain. When the disc becomes displaced, the various noises within the jaw joints such as clicking and popping sounds become apparent. More severe displacement can be very painful and eventually can cause permanent damage to the joint.
An unstable bite can cause both jaw joint displacement and muscle strain and pain.
Muscle disorders describes TMJ problems located in the muscles that control the TMJ and the muscles located in a person's face and neck. These disorders are often called mysofacial disorders.
Individuals with TMJ muscle disorders may experience pain in the muscle areas in any of the following:
head, face, ear, neck, throat, shoulder, back.
Joint derangement disorders are a group of TMJ problems that are caused by wither a dislocated jaw, a displaced disk, or an injured bone.
Degenerative joint disorders are a group of TMJ problems that are caused by diseases like arthritis that destroy the cartilage that cover the TMJ.
Patients must be aware that any noises or pain that occur during the opening and closing of the jaw is an indication that there is a problem with the jaw joints. Patients are advised to seek treatment as soon as possible to avoid allowing the problem to get worse.