What Causes TMJ

TMJ stands for ‘temporomandibular joint’ but is also sometimes called “locked jaw.” This phenomenon occurs when there is a problem with the muscular and joint functions of your jaw. TMJ issues are located in the muscles and bones at the lower jaw bone. When you suffer from TMJ, you could experience a range of pain and loud clicking sounds. These sounds are related to the stiff motion of your muscles and bones trying to complete the motions of opening and closing your mouth. Though pain is common with TMJ, 25 percent of patients have reported that they feel no pain at all. In fact, some patients will report a decrease in sleep and mouth movement, but no other symptoms at all.
TMJ can be debilitating because it can restrict jaw movement and complicate everyday processes, such as talking and eating. Because TMJ can be a huge problem, it makes sense to do all that you can to not develop the disorder. Unfortunately, for some, TMJ cannot be prevented. It can develop after a physical accident or natural muscular degeneration, like arthritis. There are, however, other causes of TMJ that can be halted. In this blog, we will discuss the factors that contribute to the development of TMJ and how best to steer clear of these causes.

Grinding Your Teeth

Grinding your teeth while you are asleep can contribute to TMJ development. Because the teeth are grinding with pressure against each other. As the teeth slide across each other, the jaw is put under severe strain. Grinding your teeth, also known as bruxism, can be a frustrating disorder in itself. For one, while you are asleep, you have no control over the movement of your jaw. Nonetheless, if your jaw is excessively moving with pressure throughout the night, the muscles will become overworked and eventually spasm. Muscle spasms are key to TMJ because the muscle will not work properly along with the jaw bone. Because the muscle has essentially ‘given up’ the jaw bone has no muscle to assist with movement, resulting in a locked jaw.
The best way to keep bruxism from developing into TMJ is by training yourself to break your own bad habits. There are many ways to train your teeth from grinding. Bruxism can be rooted by thoughts or feelings of stress. Grinding can be a way for your thoughts and feelings to physically develop. Think of grinding your teeth as a nervous tick to cope with stress. Ultimately, the best way to stop grinding is to solve the issues you have with stress. If the solution to your stress is a little more complex, or even ongoing, than a mouthguard could be beneficial.


Your dentist will be able to fit you for a personalized mouthguard. Hopefully, by having a mouthguard, your mouth and jaw movement will be decreased and your jaw muscles can get a chance to relax. Though training yourself not to grind your teeth during sleep can be accomplished, it is very difficult to do. It can be difficult to train yourself, especially when you are subconsciously grinding. The only way you will know you are not grinding is if a significant other watches you sleep. This, obviously, is both awkward and annoying for the both of you.

Brad Edgren DDS

If you are interested in TMJ treatment, our Greeley office is happy to help. And, if you are also in need of TMJ treatment options, such as a mouthguard, contact Brad Edgren DDS today! He has a well-trained staff that is very welcoming and kind. At our Greeley dental office, you will receive superb services and solutions to your TMJ issues.