Temporomandibular disorder (TMD)
Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is a condition affecting the movement of the jaw. It's not usually serious and generally gets better on its own.
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.
There are some simple things you can do to try to reduce your jaw pain.
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
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
How to make your own ice packs and heat packs
- a pack of frozen peas, wrapped in a tea towel, for no more than 5 minutes at a time, or
- a hot water bottle, wrapped in a tea towel, twice a day for 15 to 20 minutes
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
- an uneven bite