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)
Symptoms 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
Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) usually gets better without treatment. But there are things you can do to ease the symptoms.
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
How to make your own ice packs and heat packs
- a pack of frozen peas, wrapped in a tea towel, for no more than 5 minutes at a time
- a hot water bottle, wrapped in a tea towel, twice a day for 15 to 20 minutes
Urgent advice: Get advice from 111 now if:
You have pain around your jaw, ear or temple:
- while eating
- and frequent, severe headaches
- and a sore scalp
- and vision problems, such as double vision or loss of vision in 1 or both eyes
These can be signs of a serious problem that needs urgent treatment.
You can call 111 or get help from 111 online.
Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:
- you're unable to eat or drink
- the pain is affecting your daily life
- the pain is affecting your sleep
- the pain and discomfort keep coming back
Treatments for temporomandibular disorder (TMD) from a GP
The GP may suggest:
- stronger painkillers
- relaxation techniques to reduce stress
- ways to improve your sleep
They might suggest you 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)
Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) can be caused by:
- teeth grinding
- wear and tear of the joint
- a blow to the head or face
- an uneven bite
Page last reviewed: 20 June 2023
Next review due: 20 June 2026