TMJ Clinic

Causes of TMJ Disorder / Syndrome

It is important to first explain that “syndrome” is simply a collection of the symptoms and “disorder” is the actual condition.

Research has shown that many factors may lead to this disorder – TMJ dysfunction (TMD).
TMD can occur by itself or be a part of a more complex problem. Statistics indicate that the vast majority of TMJ disorders are caused by trauma.

There 2 types of trauma; Macro-trauma that is sustained from a major injury to the joint or Micro-trauma that is the result of the low grade, repetitive injury.

We believe that there is usually more than one factor responsible for TMJ dysfunction. Some of the causes may be:

  • Automobile Accident
  • Sports Injury
  • Clenching and Grinding of the teeth known as “Bruxism”
  • Systemic diseases
  • Neuromuscular imbalances.
  • Inflammation of the joint.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Osteoarthritis (degenerative)

Another common cause involves displacement or dislocation of the disk that is located between
the jawbone and the socket. The disk can also develop a hole or perforation, which can produce a grating sound with joint movement.

TMJ disorders can occur if:

  • The disk erodes or moves out of its proper alignment.
  • The joint’s cartilage is damaged by arthritis.
  • The joint is damaged by a blow or other impact.)
  • The muscles that stabilize the joint become fatigued from overwork, which can happen if you habitually clench or grind your teeth.

Signs and Symptoms of TMJ

Signs and symptoms of TMJ disorder vary and can be very complex to identify. Often the symptoms will involve more than one of the numerous TMJ components: muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, bones & connective tissue.

People with TMJ problems generally experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Chronic recurring headaches
  • Clicking, popping or grating sound in the jaw joints
  • Earaches, congestion or ringing ears
  • Limited jaw opening or locking
  • Dizziness
  • Pain when chewing
  • Neck and/or throat pain
  • Difficulty in closing the teeth together
  • Tired, tight jaws
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Scalp tenderness
  • Swallowing difficulty
  • Pain in the tongue, gums or cheek muscles
  • Teeth grinding or clenching

A displaced disk may produce clicking or popping sounds and limit jaw movement. The disk can also develop a hole or perforation, which can produce a grating sound with joint movement that causes pain when opening and closing the mouth.

Jaw, face and/or neck pain are common indicators of acute or chronic inflammation of the TMJ. This can cause significant pain around the TM joint itself but the discomfort can also spread and surface in places outside the TMJ area.

Finding the right dental physician to identify the root cause of the pain can be difficult as the TMJ transcends the boundaries between several health-care disciplines. It is important to find a doctor who is not only a licensed dentist but who also has advanced education and training in these conditions.

TMJ Diagnosis and TMJ Treatments

At TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centres, the critical path is to find the root cause of a patient’s individual pain or discomfort. A full evaluation of the patient is necessary – from a detailed health history to a comprehensive clinical examination including the evaluation of: jaw movement, skeletal structure and posture, airway and dental health, as well as cranial and neurological examination and muscle palpations.

The two temporomandibular joints can differ not only in size and shape, but also in function. It is possible to have a problem in one joint with the symptoms expressed in the other joint. Pain can migrate from one side to the other because of the complexity of this joint.

Nerves, tendons, ligaments and muscles are all interconnected with the TMJ. When any one part malfunctions, this complex system can be compromised from working together in harmony. Therefore, a careful and thorough diagnosis is needed to determine the root cause.

Finding the right practitioner to identify the root cause of the pain can be difficult as the TMJ transcends the boundaries between several health-care disciplines including: dentistry, neurology, pulmonology, otolaryngology or gastroenterology, chiropractics or physical therapy and psychology. Therefore, patients may find treatment approaches that vary from medication regimens for pain management to molding a night-guard (which can actually exacerbate inflammation).

At TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centres the focus is comprehensive evaluation for diagnosis and non-invasive treatment therapies. We are equipped with the latest technologies to further diagnose TMJ problems, direct non-surgical treatment and monitor treatment progress for maximum results.


TMD (TMJ disorder/dysfunction) although most commonly thought of as a disorder affecting only adults, can present in children at an early age. Simply noted as TMJ Children and Bruxism Children, the symptoms for the children may be milder or, unlike adult onset, it may simply be that these young children have always had symptoms of jaw pain and headaches or difficulty in normal functions of opening, chewing, swallowing, speaking and communications. As sad as it sounds, they know no difference and assume pain and/or difficulties with function are normal and what everyone experiences. Unfortunately, if undiagnosed and left untreated, the symptoms and condition increase with age. The good news with children is that they are still in developmental stage and the earlier the problem is diagnosed and treated the better the results!