Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) : The Jaw

Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is probably one of the most used joints in the body and without them we would be unable to talk, eat, yawn, kiss or express ourselves as we know it.

The TMJ is a hinged joint, formed between the jaw bone (mandible) and the skull (temporal bone) on either side of the face.

The joint has a small cartilaginous disc that sits in between the two bones to help with stability, movement, and shock absorption in the jaw.

Jaw Movements

A variety of movements occur at the TMJ.  These movements include:

  • depression and elevation – opening and closing of the jaw
  • lateral deviation – moving the jaw to both the left and right sides
  • protraction and retraction – forward and backward movement of the jaw

The normal range for depression is 45-55mm, with >30mm needed for functional movement,  lateral deviation range is 8-12mm in each direction, while protraction range is approx. 7mm.

Chewing and talking require a combination of jaw movements in a number of directions.

The resting position of the TMJ is with the mouth slightly open, the lips together and the teeth not in contact.

TMJ Muscles

Each of these movements of the TMJ are performed by a number of muscles working together to execute the movement.

These muscles include the Temporalis, Masseter, Pterygoids and Suprahyoid muscles.

TMJ Dysfunction

Jaw pain, clicking and headaches are very common and annoying problems associated with the TMJ and may be associated with conditions known broadly as Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)

Disorders in this area can result in many symptoms including:

  • Pain around the jaw and/or ear
  • Difficulty opening your mouth, yawning, chewing
  • Clicking, popping, snapping or other joint noises
  • Locking jaw
  • Headaches

Physiotherapy can be helpful in resolving TMD.

If you, or someone you know are experiencing any of the above symptoms, call 8356 1379 to arrange an appointment or book online.

We love helping clients from the Grange, Henley Beach and West Lakes areas and look forward to helping you soon!

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