The maxillary arch, which is part of the skull, does not move. The mandibular arch, which is a separate bone, is the moveable component of this joint.
The temporomandibular joint is one of the most frequently used joints in the entire body, moving whenever a person eats, drinks, or talks.
Pain in the temporomandibular joint can be caused by trauma; such as, a blow to the face, inflammatory or degenerative arthritis; or poor dental work or structural defects that push the mandible back toward the ears whenever the patient chews or swallows. Grinding or clenching the teeth is a frequent cause.
Sometimes muscles around the temporomandibular joint that are used for chewing can go into spasms, causing head and neck pain, as well as difficulty opening the mouth normally.
The kind of medical treatment depends on the cause and severity of the problem and can range from use of a mouth guard or medication to prevent night time tooth grinding to surgery.