(TMD) Joint Dysfunction

Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is a condition affecting the movement of the jaw. It's not usually serious and generally gets better on its own.

Check if you have temporomandibular disorder (TMD)

Signs of TMD include:

  • pain around your jaw, ear and temple

  • clicking, popping or grinding noises when you move your jaw

  • a headache around your temples

  • difficulty opening your mouth fully

  • your jaw locking when you open your mouth

The pain may be worse when chewing and when you feel stressed.

TMD can also stop you getting a good night's sleep.

How to ease temporomandibular disorder (TMD) yourself

There are some simple things you can do to try to reduce your jaw pain.

Do:

  • eat soft food, like pasta, omelettes and soup

  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen

  • hold ice packs or heat packs to the jaw, whichever feels better

  • massage the painful jaw muscles

  • try to find ways to relax

Don’t:

  • do not chew gum or pen tops

  • do not bite food with your front teeth

  • do not yawn too wide

  • do not bite your nails

  • do not clench your teeth – apart from when eating, your teeth should be apart

  • do not rest your chin on your hand

Treatments for temporomandibular disorder (TMD) from a GP

The GP may suggest:

  • stronger painkillers

  • relaxation techniques to reduce stress

  • ways to improve your sleep

They might suggest you see:

  • a dentist – if teeth grinding might be an issue

  • a psychologist – if stress and anxiety are making your pain worse

  • a physiotherapist – for advice about jaw exercises and massage

If these treatments do not help, you may be referred to a specialist in joint problems to discuss other options, such as painkilling injections or surgery.

Causes of temporomandibular disorder (TMD)

TMD can be caused by:

  • teeth grinding

  • wear and tear of the joint

  • a blow to the head or face

  • stress

  • an uneven bite