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Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder - What it is

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD) is a group of conditions that cause pain and loss of normal function to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) or jaw joint. The temporomandibular joint is located in front of the ear, on both sides of the head.

The joint is made up of the lower jawbone and the skull. A cartilage disk, which functions as a shock absorber and joint lubricant, separates these two bones. The TMJ and the muscles of chewing enable you to open your mouth, talk and chew.

TMJD can originate from the chewing muscles, cartilage disk or the joint bone.

Temporomandibular Joint Positions

Normal Closed Position

The lower jawbone is separated from the skull by a cartilage disk that acts as a cushion when the joint is in function i.e. chewing, speaking and yawning.

Temporomandibular Joint in Normal Closed Position

Normal Open Position

On the opening of the mouth, the disk will follow the lower jaw bone and they will move together when you move your jaw up and down or side to side.

Temporomandibular Joint in Normal Open Position


In an abnormal joint, the disk can be displaced or torn. This displaced or torn disk can cause obstruction in joint movement. A torn disk can result in excessive wear of the bone of the joint, causing inflammation and pain.

Abnormal Temporomandibular Joint

Our Oral surgeons perform TMJ (temporomandibular joint) surgery of varying complexity. These include:

  • simple washing of the joint (arthrocentesis)
  • inserting a scope (arthroscopy) through an incision to examine and treat the joint
  • open joint surgery

You may be a candidate for joint surgery if:

  • there is disease in your joint
  • there are degenerative changes in your joint
  • you do not respond to non-surgical management

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder - Preparing for surgery

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder - Post-surgery care

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder - Other Information

The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth