Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are commonly managed by dental professionals. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ), the muscles of mastication, (jaw muscles), and the dental apparatus (teeth) can be major contributing factors in TMD and have been identified as a major cause of non-dental pain of the face, jaw, and head region.
The temporomandibular joint (TM joint) is located in front of the ear on both sides of the face and work as a ball and socket. If you put your fingers in front of your ears and open and close your jaw you can feel movement in the joints.
The upper portion of the lower jaw (mandible) is called the condyle. The condyles are located in front of the both the right and the left ears. The condyles fit into the socket (fossa) formed by the lower portion of the skull. In between the ball and socket there is a tissue pad called the disc that acts as a shock absorber.
The lower jaw is attached to the skull by ligaments and muscles. The ligaments determine how far the lower jaw can move. The jaw muscles move and stabilize the jaw. The temporomandibular joints are enclosed and filled with lubricating fluid that keeps the joints healthy and helps the parts move smoothly.