Jenna Hollenstein, MS, RD
Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is a painful condition of the joint in the jaw. The temporomandibular joints are the small joints in front of each ear. They attach the lower jaw (mandible) to the skull. The disorder may affect the joint in the jaw or the muscles surrounding it. The disorder can include:
The exact cause of TMD is often unclear. Possible causes include:
TMD is more common in women aged 30-50 years old. Other factors that increase your chance of TMD include:
TMD may cause:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The physical exam may include:
Images may be needed of your jaw to check for abnormalities causing TMD. This can be done with:
Usually, the least invasive measures will be tried first.
The area will need time to heal:
The most commonly used medications include:
Some medication may be injected into the jaw such as:
To help reduce pain and allow muscles to relax:
Some may benefit from counseling to learn stress management and relaxation techniques, such as:
A splint or mouth guard can be made to relax the jaw muscles, and prevent clenching and grinding of the teeth. The guard is usually worn at night. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of proof it works.
Correction of bite abnormalities by a dentist or orthodontist is sometimes needed.
Surgical correction is a last resort. Many of the available procedures have not been well-studied for their effectiveness.
There are no current guidelines to prevent TMD.
Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association
The TMJ Association
Canadian Dental Association
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website. Available at:
http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/oralhealth/topics/tmj. Updated July 10, 2014. Accessed May 16, 2016.
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction
. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114703/Temporomandibular-joint-TMJ-dysfunction. Updated May 11, 2015. Accessed May 16, 2016.
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The use of botulinum toxin for the treatment of chronic facial pain.
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DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Turner JA, Mancl L, Aaron LA. Short- and long-term efficacy of brief cognitive-behavioral therapy for patients with chronic temporomandibular disorder pain: a randomized, controlled trial
Last reviewed May 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
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