What is TMJ?

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The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is most commonly known as a jaw joint. It is a heavily-used joint found at the base of the skull right in front of the ears. This joint connects the lower jaw bone (mandible) to the upper jaw bone (maxilla) and consists of mostly cartilage, held together by ligaments around the jaw and head.

Basically, the TMJ is a hinge that helps your jaw move in, out, up and down. This motion is essential to talking, chewing, and opening and closing your mouth. Because it’s such an active joint, it can easily become sore, swollen, or injured from use. If these injuries do occur, you may experience discomfort, pain, or limited movement throughout your head and neck. Just like brushing your teeth to keep them healthy, the best offense is a good defense for your TMJ. To fight potential problems with your jaw joints, make an appointment with your dentist to check for problems before they occur.

If you do experience issues opening and closing your mouth, chewing, or talking, the first step is to consult with a professional to accurately diagnose the problem. If an issue is found, Dr. Robert Stemme can provide options for treatment from our Chesterfield, Missouri, office. Depending on the level of discomfort or severity of mobility issues, treatments can range from heat therapy to anti-inflammatory medication. In extreme cases, surgery can sometimes be necessary, but if you take advantage of regular checkups at St. Louis County Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, this can be prevented.

For answers to any TMJ questions, or for an accurate diagnosis of any jaw discomfort you may be experiencing, call us at 314-434-0493 or visit us in Chesterfield, Missouri, and we will be happy to help you.