The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is located right in front of your ears on each side of your head and is where your lower jaw (mandible) contacts the head (temporal bone of the skull). There is a cushioning between the two bones called a disc. This joint motion is considered a sliding ball and socket. As you begin to open your mouth the lower jaw rotates on an axis and then it slides forward as you continue to open fully.The disc slides along with the lower jaw to prevent any bone to bone contact. This joint also depends on a number of muscles and tendons working together simultaneously to provide health function of everyday actions such as chewing or talking.
TMJ or TMJD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorders) can cause jaw pain, facial pain, neck pain, headaches, as well as, popping and clicking in the jaw while yawning, chewing, or even talking. TMJ disorders have a number of causes such as a previous injury to the jaw, arthritis, and muscle fatigue from an improper bite leading to clenching and grinding of the teeth
Most cases of TMJ disorders can be treated non-surgically with occlusal splint therapy, a bite adjustment, or a combination of these two therapies. An occlusal splint is sometimes referred to as a night guard and is made of a Hard Plastic. Soft plastic night guards are not indicated for TMJ therapy. The idea behind this is that the teeth are preventing the lower jaw from reaching its proper rest position. The splint prevents interference caused by the teeth and allows the jaw and TMJ to be in alignment with the skull and thus relieving the joint of stress and the muscles of fatigue. Some cases of TMJ disorder do require surgical intervention but are usually a last resort.