What Everyone Should Know About TMJ Disorder

Because it is the most common dental health issue, most people are aware of tooth decay, its relation to cavities, and its potential effects if not treated. However, many issues besides decay and cavities can affect the integrity of your oral health, even if few people are aware of how serious such issues can be. If you’ve ever experienced pain or discomfort in your jaw, or had trouble opening and closing your mouth, then you may have exhibited symptoms of TMJ disorder – a dysfunction with your jaw’s joints. Though you might not know a lot about TMJ disorder, it could be a significant factor in your quality of life if the condition develops.

What TMJ Stands For

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, and your lower jaw (or mandible) hinges on two of them, located in front of each ear at the temporal areas of your skull. TMJs are responsible for your jaw’s movement, and are located near the dominant nerves of your head and face – known as trigeminal nerves. TMJ disorder describes a dysfunction in your jaw’s joints that can inhibit your ability to bite, chew, and speak comfortably.

How TMJs Become Damaged

When you bite and chew, the pressure that your jaw exerts is absorbed by your teeth and TMJs. Normally, the stress is distributed by the motion of your jaw and the alignment of your teeth, minimizing the amount of pressure each component is exposed to. When the pressure is imbalanced (due to crooked teeth, a jaw injury, or a jawbone deformity), your TMJs can become exhausted, damaged, and/or swollen. In the midst of TMJ disorder, the afflicted joints can disturb the trigeminal nerves next to it, causing a wide range of discomfort and issues with your jaw’s function.


As a native of northwest Indiana, Nicholas Cain, DDS, is dedicated to providing excellent general, preventive, and family dentistry services to the community that raised him. To schedule your appointment, call Healthy Smiles today at 219-938-2637.