In clinic we have recently seen an influx of people that have been suffering from TMJ dysfunction including: a clicking jaw (on one or both sides); jaw tracking to one side a lot more than the other; lock jaw; teeth grinding; and also a couple of people where the ear has started to feel affected by the referred pain. When there is not a structural problem with your TMJ, which you dentist should be able to tell you about, it may be that your jaw is compensating for your motor control.
Motor control describes the way that humans organise and sequence their movements and over the course of your life time through habit, injury or surgery your motor control can become disorganised. When this happens your body starts to compensate and there are a number of go-to structures within the body that can start to pick up the slack and your jaw is one.
The jaw is such a common and powerful compensator because of its anatomy and innervation. As your nervous system develops over the first few weeks of your life the primary brain vesicles (forebrain, midbrain, & hindbrain) are developed and are further sub-divided into secondary brain vesicles. Of these secondary vesicles the metencephalon contains both the cerebellum, which is the motor control control centre, and the pons. The pons is a part of the brain stem and plays a role in respiration, bladder control, hearing, taste, eye movement, facial expression, posture (and more) and also innervates (stimulates), the TMJ.
Your TMJ has more proprioception per surface area than any other joint in the body. So when your body has lost some of its movement organisation it is not uncommon for the cerebellum to be helped out by the pons which fires up your jaw musculature to help you out. You won't even know you are doing this as the process is sub-conscious.
We at North East Body Mechanic are very good at identifying whether your jaw pain may be due to a motor control problem. If it is then we may be able to help with your pain or point you in the direction of someone that can.
(Thanks to Dr Kathy Dooley for the anatomy outline that I've used in the article!)
Image taken from http://www.melbournetmjcentre.com.au/what-is-the-tmj/ on 11/04/2016