The temporomandibular joint (TMJ), located directly in front of the ear on each side of the head, connects the jawbone to the skull. Problems with this joint are also referred to as TMJ disorders, and can involve the jaws and facial muscles.
Clenching or grinding the teeth together can contribute to the development of jaw joint problems. The excessive force resulting from the teeth clenching may injure the joint especially if this habit goes on for a long time.
Crooked teeth problems may also lead to a TMJ disorder. Improperly aligned teeth do not rest properly against one another when they come together (such as when the mouth is closed or when chewing food); this misalignment exposes the jaw joint to additional pressure that causes pain.
People who are faced with stressful situations may unconsciously clench their teeth as a way of dealing with negative emotions. Teeth grinding may also be the result of trying to hide those feelings from other people. The jaw joint suffers from this habitual teeth clenching, which may lead to TMJ problems.
An injury may damage the jaw joint and cause a TMJ disorder to develop.