What is the main cause of TMJ?

Woman with TMJ

Do you know where your TMJ is? TMJ disorder is a very common problem, but many people don’t realize that they are suffering from a real condition that can be treated. The TMJ or temporomandibular joint is found on either side of the face, connecting the jaw to the skull. It comprises of a series of muscles, ligaments and connective tissues that guide the movement of the jaw – both open and closed like a hinge, and forward, down, and back. These movements enable us to enjoy full range of motion in the jaw, so that we can talk, sneeze, laugh, yawn, speak, eat and more.

TMJ disorder occurs when a patient has problems with the way that their jaw works. Rather than moving smoothly and easily, patients can experience stiffness and discomfort, as well as a range of other symptoms.

What are the signs of TMJ disorder?

TMJ disorder can manifest with a variety of different symptoms, including the following:

- Pain or stiffness when opening/closing the jaw

- Persistent headaches, particularly first thing in the morning

- Pain in the muscles of your face, especially around the jaw

- Persistent earache or tinnitus

- Your ears feel like they are blocked, and sounds are muffled

- Clicking, grinding, and popping noises when you move your jaw, such as when you are eating or yawning

- Swelling of the face and/or neck

You may experience one or more of these symptoms, and their severity can also vary. They may come and go inconsistently, or be a chronic, ongoing problem.

What is the main cause of TMJ?

There’s no single main cause of TMJ disorder. Instead, there are a variety of different contributing factors that can lead to the development of this restrictive and painful condition. These include:

Injury or trauma to the face/jaw

Unsurprisingly, one of the most obvious causes of TMJ is damage to the face or jaw that occurs because of an accident or injury, such as a fall, sporting accident or car collision. Depending on the severity of the impact, patients may experience TMJ alongside other problems.


Stress is another major contributor towards the development of TMJ disorder, as well as also having a negative effect on our overall health, wellbeing, and happiness. When we are stressed, the muscles in our body tense up and become tight and constricted. This includes the muscles in our face and jaw, which can lead to the symptoms associated with TMJ. Stress is also a contributing factor in a dental condition known as bruxism, which can be a cause of TMJ disorder.


Bruxism is a condition characterized by the clenching or grinding of the teeth, normally while the patient sleeps. However, it can also occur subconsciously, such as if you are stressed or concentrating particularly hard on something. Bruxism can have several consequences for the teeth as well as the jaw, including the development of TMJ disorder.


Arthritis is the name given to inflammation and pain affecting the joint. There are several different types of arthritis, with osteoarthritis being the most common. This is where the smooth cartilage lining the joint degenerates, making movement more difficult than usual, leading to pain, inflammation, and stiffness. Another common type of arthritis is known as rheumatoid arthritis, and this occurs when the body’s immune system targets affected joints, causing pain and swelling. Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can cause TMJ disorder.

If you are experiencing TMJ disorder, there are treatments that can help, and our dedicated dental team would be delighted to discuss these with you and help you to find a solution for your symptoms. Call us today at (903) 708-6400 to schedule a consultation.