The Temporo-Mandibular Joint (TMJ) is the joint just below the ear, between the lower jaw bone (mandible) and the side of the skull (temporal bone). It’s a small joint and while it doesn’t receive as much attention as the knee or the shoulder, it’s vital to everyday life. The TMJ allows you to speak, eat, and open your mouth at will.

TMJ pain is most often a result of trauma to the jaw, excessive gum chewing, teeth grinding while sleeping or stressed, improper biting or chewing, and arthritis. The pain can be very specific and easily identifiable. The jaw may click or pop, it may lock, or you may have trouble opening your mouth. TMJ pain can be more subtle, though, and may manifest as an ear ache, temple or cheek pain, headache, or sore neck and shoulder.

Otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat doctors) are often consulted with TMJ because the symptoms often appear in the head and neck. Your local Orlando ENT specialist will take a detailed history of the symptoms and examine your jaw joint, muscles, and how your teeth fit together. Oftentimes, simple lifestyle changes can alleviate TMJ pain, like stopping chewing gum, using a mouth gard at night to stop teeth clenching, eating soft foods for awhile, and using moist heat on the joint. He or she may also recommend stress reduction techniques.

If you believe you injured your TMJ, ice the area to help reduce swelling and seek medical attention. If there is a major problem, your Orlando ENT professional may prescribe muscle relaxants or anti-inflammatory medications to ease the pain.


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