- NHS Library
- Health A-Z
Temporomandibular disorder (TMD)
Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is a problem affecting the 'chewing' muscles and the joints between the lower jaw and the base of the skull.
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.
- 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
See a 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 for temporomandibular disorder (TMD) from a GP
A GP may suggest:
- stronger painkillers
- relaxation techniques to reduce stress
- ways to improve your sleep
A 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 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 TMD
TMD can be caused by:
- teeth grinding
- wear and tear of the joint
- a blow to the head or face
- an uneven bite