Temporomandibular disorder (TMD)
Temporomandibular disorder 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 TMD
Signs of TMD include:
- pain around your jaw, ear and temple
- clicking, popping or grinding noises when moving your jaw
- headache around your temples
- difficulty opening your mouth fully
- 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 TMD yourself
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 warm or ice packs to the jaw, whichever feels better
- massage the painful jaw muscles
- try to find ways to relax
- chew gum or pen tops
- bite food with your front teeth
- yawn too wide
- bite your nails
- clench your teeth – apart from when eating, your teeth should be apart
- rest your chin on your hand
Holding warm or ice packs to your jaw
Try either a:
- pack of frozen peas, wrapped in a tea towel, for no more than 5 minutes at a time
- hot water bottle, wrapped in a tea towel, twice a day for 15 to 20 minutes
See your GP if:
- you're unable to eat or drink
- the pain is affecting your life
- the pain is affecting your sleep
- the pain and discomfort keep coming back
Treatment from your GP
Your GP may suggest:
- stronger painkillers
- relaxation techniques to reduce stress
- ways to improve your sleep
Your GP might suggest you see:
- a dentist, if teeth grinding might be an issue
- a psychologist, if stress and anxiety are making your pain worse
If these treatments don't help, you may be referred to a specialist in joint problems to discuss other options, such as painkilling injections or surgery.
Causes of TMD
TMD can be caused by:
- teeth grinding
- wear and tear of the joint
- a blow to the head or face
- an uneven bite
If you can’t speak to your GP or don’t know what to do next.