Temporomandibular (jaw) joint disorder


Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is a condition affecting the jaw joint and muscles. It's not usually serious and often gets better on its own in a couple of weeks.

Symptoms of temporomandibular disorder (TMD)

Symptoms of TMD include:

  • pain around your jaw, ear, and temple
  • clicking, popping, or grinding noises when you move 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.


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 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
  • rest your chin on your hand

When to seek medical advice

Treatment for temporomandibular disorder (TMD) can be sought from a dentist or GP.

Contact 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

Your GP may suggest:

  • stronger painkillers
  • relaxation techniques to reduce stress
  • ways to improve your sleep

You may also be recommended to 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 is associated with:

  • teeth grinding
  • wear and tear of the joint
  • a blow to the head or face
  • stress
  • an uneven bite

The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website nhs.uk
Last Updated: 06/03/2024 11:36:04