Tempromandibular Dysfunction

The term “tempromandibular dysfunction” (TMD) refers to acute or chronic pain, inflammation, clicking, clunking or locking that emanates from the tempromandibular joint (the jaw joint). The tempromandibular joint is formed by the cheek bone and the jaw, or the muscles of the face related to movement of the jaw (also known as muscles of mastication).

Signs and symptoms

The most common complaint people suffering from TMD report is earache, which often results in a lengthy history of numerous visits to their GP, with numerous courses of antibiotics.

TMD can vary in its presentation, and will often involve more than one structure associated with the tempromandibular joint, for example, muscles, joint and capsule, ligaments, tendons and nerves. The cause of TMD varies too. Often the main causative factor, in the absence of trauma, is stress, bruxism (grinding or clenching your teeth), and extensive dental surgery.

Symptoms which could be associated with TMD

  • Pain or difficulty with yawning
  • Pain or difficulty with chewing or biting
  • Stiff and/or pain with opening or closing your mouth
  • Earache
  • Pressure within or blocked ears
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Facial pain.

How physiotherapy can help

Physiotherapy can be effective in the management of pain from TMD through the application of anti-inflammatory modalities (e.g. ultrasound), soft tissue management techniques, acupuncture, joint mobilisations and correction of habitual positions of the mouth and jaw.

Top tips

Think about postures you adopt or habits you have with regard to your mouth and jaw, for example biting your lip, clenching your teeth and even chewing gum can all impact on this condition.

Continuing with or finding an activity or hobby is extremely beneficial in helping to manage stress, which is often a major cause of TMD.