The jaw joint or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located just in front of the ear and allows the lower jaw to move when eating or speaking. In between the bones of the joint is a small piece of cartilage which acts as a buffer between the bones. In some cases, this cartilage can become damaged due to trauma or over-stretching during wide opening. This can cause pain either within the joint or in the muscles around the jaws.
This condition is very common, but very difficult to treat. At your consultation, it is important to examine the joint clinically and with an x-ray to make sure there are no diseases around the bones/teeth which can cause the symptoms. If these are excluded, a number of radiographic examinations can be performed to visualise the cartilage and treatment provided. Treatment may involve gentle exercise, resting the joint, provision of an upper splint to be worn at night or in some cases surgery.