Temporomandibular Joint

ATM Disorders and Treatments

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint formed by the upper part of the mandible and the temporal bone of the skull. This bone acts like a sliding hinge and may sometimes present problems due to the complexity of the movements it makes.

There are three types of TMJ disorders:

  • Myofascial pain, which causes pain in the muscles that control jaw movements.
  • Internal asymmetry caused by a displaced disc, dislocated jaw or injury to the condyle.
  • Degenerative and inflammatory alterations to the TMJ.

Causes of TMJ disorders

There are many common causes of TMJ disorders, such as:

  • Bruxism.
  • Stress or anxiety.
  • Injury to the mandible or the TMJ.
  • Wear and tear of the disc or cartilage of the TMJ.
  • Impairment due to rheumatoid arthritis or gout.
  • Other illnesses that cause inflammation of the jaw.


The following symptoms could indicate that you have a temporomandibular joint disorder::

  • Pain in the jaw, face or neck.
  • Pain on one side of the head that increases when you press your teeth together.
  • Limited movement or locking of the jaw.
  • Pain and stiffness in the muscles of the jaw.
  • Difficulty in chewing.

Three types of treatment carried out at the Maxillofacial Institute

  • Conservative treatment: this type of treatment is undertaken when alterations in the temporomandibular joint are minor or transitory. The team at the Maxillofacial Institute offer:
    • Therapies using customised stabilisation splints.
    • Physiotherapy sessions to correct bad habits such as bruxism or incorrect posture, thus favouring the entire articular system of the skull. The techniques used include massage and stretching of the cervical and face muscles, mobilisation by means of tongue exercises, work on posture, breathing and facial relaxation exercises.
  • Surgical treatment: the Maxillofacial Institute is committed to minimally invasive maxillofacial surgery:  an arthrocentesis of the temporomandibular joint, to eliminate all microscopic particles by washing out the joint.

If the problem with the joint is serious, and none of the conservation measures are suitable, then the damaged joint is replaced with a prosthesis similar to those used in other parts of the body.