The temporomandibular joint – shortened to TMJ – is what opens and closes the mouth. Found at the skull’s base in front of the ear, it connects the upper jaw with the mandible lower jaw. The TMJ acts like a hinge to open and close the mouth by moving the mandible up and down. It also lets the lower jaw move backward and forward and side to side.
While an examination must be performed to diagnose TMJ disorder, there are some signs and/or symptoms that can lead you to schedule an appointment. First, listen for a clicking sound that occurs when you open or shut your mouth. If your jaw locks in place, something is definitely wrong. Tender jaw muscles or pain from chewing or yawning motions are also clues. Misalignment of the upper and lower teeth when you close your mouth is an indication of a jaw issue. Other signs that might not be so easy to spot like migraines, earaches, or pain originating from behind the eyes can all be associated with TMJ disorder.