Hopefully, your jaw never actually hits the floor, but if it did, there’s a good chance you’d be looking at a pretty serious temporomandibular joint dislocation, more commonly known as TMJ. Not being able to close your mouth can be scary and painful, but it can be easily fixed with the help of a dentist or dental specialist. Here’s a go-to guide on what you need to know if you think you might have dislocated your jaw.
What Is Your Temporomandibular Joint?
The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is located just in front of the lower part of the ear. Thanks to this joint, your jaw can move! Just like your hip and shoulder, the TMJ is a ball-and-socket joint. The ball (called the condyle) comes out of the socket and moves forward when the mouth opens wide and goes back into place when the mouth closes.
Like all other ball-in-socket joints, your TMJ can dislocate and cause problems. TMJ dislocation occurs when the condyle moves too far. Sometimes, it can get stuck in front of a section of bone called the articular eminence, which inhibits it from moving back into place. This dislocation usually happens when the ligaments that normally keep the condyle in place are somewhat loose. The surrounding muscles often go into spasm and hold the condyle in the dislocated position.