TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. This is a hinge joint, and it connects the mandible (your lower jaw) to the temporal bone of the skull. This bone is located right in front of your ear, on both sides of the head. Being a hinge joint, it is flexible and facilitates the movement of the jaw from side to side, as well as up and down. Whenever you are chewing food, speaking or yawning, it is this joint that is moving. The muscles which are attached to this joint, as well as those that surround it control the movement of the jaw and its positioning.
When the muscles or the nerves in this joint are injured in any way, the result could be TMJ syndrome, TMJ dysfunction or TMD. Not only can your internal structures cause this dysfunction, but also the alignment of your teeth as well as stress that you endure that causes grinding or clenching.