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TMJ, short for temporomandibular joint disorder, is a condition that affects the joint just below the ear that connects your jaw to your skull. When this joint moves, it allows you to talk, yawn, and eat, so problems that affect that mobility may make those things a challenge.
The joint issues caused by TMJ often manifest with severe pain and discomfort that intensifies with movement of the jaw or surrounding areas. A person with TMJ may also experience jaws that feel stuck or locked, a clicking or grinding sound in the jaw with movement of the joint, a feeling of tiredness in the face, swelling in the affected area, and a modified bite. The effects of TMJ aren't relegated to the jaw, however; many people also experience earaches, headaches, dizziness, hearing problems, and ringing in the ears.
If you are experiencing any of the signs of TMJ, your dentist will help rule out sinus issues and other health problems that manifest with similar symptoms. In addition to a physical exam, he or she may order X-rays, an MRI, or a CT scan. If necessary, he or she may refer you to a maxillofacial surgeon or orthodontist for treatment.
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