Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMDs)

The jaw joint is also known as the Temporomandiular joint (TMJ). It can get painful as a result of injury, inflammatory disease, poor postures, habits and growth disorders. 

The TMJ is made up of several parts: the lower jaw (or mandible) and the socket (or temporal bone). In between the mandible and the socket is adisc. The disc allows the joint to glide smoothly on opening and closing. The joint is also held in place by muscles and ligaments.

What are the signs and symptoms of TMJ dysfunction?

Pain is the most common symptom of TMJ problems, although noteveryone gets pain. Symptoms can include:

  • Pain in the jaw joints and facial muscles

  • Clicking, grinding or locking of the jaw

  • Headaches & Dizziness

  • Difficulty opening or closing the mouth comfortably

  • Pain on talking, chewing (especially hard food) & yawning

  • Ear pain, ringing in the ears (tinnitus) & hearing loss

What causes TMJ pain?

There are a number of causes and frequently it is a combination ofthese rather than one single cause:

  • Trauma, for example a blow to the jaw either directly to the joint or elsewhere on the jaw.

  • Overactivity of the jaw muscles. This can occur from continuousclenching or grinding the teeth.

  • Wear and tear of the cartilage inside in the joint

  • Arthritis

  • Increased sensitivity to pain linked to stress


  • Apply heat or ice for 15-20 minutes on the area of pain

  • Painkillers

  • Massage the joint and surrounding muscles


  • Exercise your jaw regularly on your physiotherapist’s advice.

  • Be aware when you are clenching or grinding your teeth.

  • Change to a soft food diet and avoid hard and chewy foods.

  • Cut tough food into small pieces.


  • Excessive chewing (e.g. Nails, gum, pen tops & your cheek). This stops the jaw from having a rest.

  • Excessive mouth opening (e.g. Yawning).

  • Resting your jaw in your hand or holding your telephone to your ear using just your shoulders.

  • Sleeping face down, as this puts a strain on the neck.


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