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In diagnosing TMD your doctor will do a physical examination.

In diagnosing TMD your doctor will do a physical examination.
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Temporomandibular joint disorder

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects your jaw to your skull. There is one on each side of your face, in front of each ear. These joints allow the movements needed for speaking, eating and facial expression.

Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) can cause pain, abnormal jaw movements and joint noises. They are quite common.

TMD symptoms

If you have TMD, you may have:

  • discomfort or pain in the jaw, especially when eating
  • an aching pain in front of your ear, which may spread to your face
  • ‘locking’ of the jaw, making it difficult to open or close your mouth
  • a clicking or grating noise when you open your mouth or chew
  • a headache.

What causes TMD?

TMD can be caused by a number of different things, including:

Sometimes, people have TMD without any obvious cause.

When to seek treatment?

If you think you might have TMD and it’s bothering you, see your doctor. Your doctor will probably do a physical examination. You might be asked to have an X-ray, CT or MRI scan.

TMD treatment

There is plenty you can do to ease the pain of TMD. You can rest the joint by:

  • eating soft food
  • avoiding chewing gum
  • cutting all food into small pieces
  • avoiding clenching your jaw
  • avoiding opening your mouth wide.

You can also try relaxation techniques to relieve stress. Gentle jaw-strengthening exercises might also help.

It is not known which medications are really effective for TMD. However, medications that may be tried include painkillers, medications that treat inflammation, and muscle relaxants. In most cases, TMD improves over time. Very few people need surgery.

Last reviewed: July 2015

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Temporomandibular joint disorders - myDr.com.au

Find out more about temporomandibular disorders, or TMJ disorders, which cause dull, aching pain in the jaw.

Read more on myDr website

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