Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Anatomy

The jaw joint consists of the tip of the jaw bone (mandibular condyle), coming up into the base of the skull. In between the two bones there is a fibrous pad known as the TMJ disc.

All of this is surrounded by various ligaments, tendons, blood vessels and nerves.

In order for the mouth to open, the jaw bone must first rotate around the condyle within the fossa, or socket. To continue opening wide, the jaw bone then must translate downward and forward. If this is not occurring properly then symptoms such as TMJ noise and/or abnormal function can result.

The muscles of mastication connect the mandible (lower jaw) to the maxilla (upper jaw), skull and neck.

These muscles are responsible for the functions of the jaw including:

  • Opening
  • Closing
  • Side to side
  • Talking
  • Chewing
  • Swallowing

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The Temporomandibular Joint

TMJ Muscles