What is TMJ?

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By Dr. Nicole Mariano

TMJ is the name for any pain, noise, headache, ear pain, tooth issue or muscle tension associated the jaw joints and the biting system. The medical name for TMJ is temporomandibular joint disease or TMD.

What is the cause of TMD?

TMD is cause by a variety of different issues. These include trauma from motor vehicle accidents and autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis. However, most TMD is cause by an imbalance in the chewing system.

When most people go to the dentist, they think only about teeth. But teeth are attached to a jaw bone which is held in place by muscles, tendons, skin and the jaw joints. When the system is out of balance, it causes the body to compensate for the problem. Eventually, the body is no longer able to compensate and issues begin to show up. This is when people begin to have the symptoms associated the TMD.

What does a Healthy Bite Look Like?

In order to understand what a bite that is out of balance, we first need to understand what is healthy. Our chewing system is made up of four parts. These include: TMJ, teeth, jaw bones and airway.


The chewing system is healthy, the TMJ open and slides easily to a maximum opening.