The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are the joints and jaw muscles that connect your lower jawbone to your skull and allow your mouth to open and close. The muscles, ligaments, discs, and jaw bone that make up this intricate network of joints activate and work together every time you chew, speak, swallow, or even yawn by controlling the lower jaw—also known as the mandible—as it moves backward, forward, up and down, and side to side.


Problems that develop with TMJ are known as temporomandibular disorders (TMD).You may also hear them referred to as “TMJ disorders.” These complications can be caused by arthritis, dislocation, injury, teeth grinding, or even issues with tooth and jaw alignment.


Some common symptoms of TMD include:

  • Jaw pain or tenderness
  • Pain, ringing, or stuffiness in the ears
  • Frequent headaches or neck pain
  • Clicking or popping sound with jaw movement
  • Swelling on the sides of the face
  • Jaw muscle spasms
  • Altered alignment of top/bottom teeth
  • Locked jaw or limited opening of the mouth

Should you notice any of the above symptoms, please give our office a call. Dr. Mike Hanley can identify any presence of TMD and can create the best treatment for your situation.


Of course, the best treatment for TMD is preventing it before it occurs. Here are some simple steps you can take to prevent TMD from occurring or becoming more severe:

  • Relax your face; remember the rule: “Lips together, teeth apart.”
  • Avoid grinding your teeth.
  • Avoid constant gum chewing or biting your nails.
  • Eat softer foods.
  • Chew food evenly on both sides of your mouth.
  • Avoid sitting with your chin resting on your hand.
  • Avoid cradling a phone receiver between your head and shoulder; use a headset or hold the phone in your hand.
  • Practice good posture: keep your head up, back straight, and shoulders squared.