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Temporomandibular Joint Disorders

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders are very common, affecting over 10 million people in the United States. The temporomandibular joint is the small joint located in front of each ear that attaches the lower jaw to the skull. These joints work in combination with various jaw muscles and ligaments, making it possible to open and close the mouth, chew, speak and swallow. When the temporomandibular joints, jaw muscles and ligaments are prevented from working together properly, a painful TMJ disorder may occur.

Although the causes of TMJ disorder are not completely understood, research has shown that certain factors may contribute to the problem. For example, conditions that affect other joints in the body, such as arthritis, may cause or aggravate TMJ disorder. Injury, trauma or grinding the teeth during sleep may also lead to the condition. In addition, displacement or dislocation of the disc that's located between the jawbone and socket may cause TMJ.

UCSF's oral and maxillofacial surgeons offer a full range of diagnostic services, as well as surgical and non-surgical treatments for TMJ disorders. Patients also have access to our Orofacial Pain Center, which specializes in conditions that cause orofacial pain, such as TMJ. In addition to pain management, services offered include relaxation techniques, biofeedback and acupuncture.

Our Approach to Temporomandibular Joint Disorders

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.