The jaw joint (TMJ) is where the lower jaw joins the temporal bone of the skull. Each time a person chews, speaks and swallows the joint moves so therefore it is one of the most frequently used joints in the body.
The causes of jaw joint disorder can be multi-faceted and symptoms often stem from dysfunctional interaction between the teeth, facial muscles and jaws. These causes can include tension, misaligned or missing teeth as well as poor dental work, incorrect myofunctional (muscle function) habits including mouth breathing, incorrect jaw development, trauma or degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis.
The jaw joint (TMJ) can be located by pressing the fingertips immediately in front of the ear on each side of the face. By fully opening then closing the mouth, movement in the TMJ can be felt. This motion in the TMJ can also be felt by inserting the tips of the little fingers into the ear canal (with fingernail backwards) then pressing forwards while opening and closing the jaw. While this exercise may cause pain for sufferers of TMJ disorder, most symptoms are located away from the TMJ and many undiagnosed sufferers will have experienced chronic head, neck, ear and other pain.