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Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)

Temporomandibular disorder (TMD)is a condition in which a person feels pain and discomfort in the muscles and joints that connect the lower jawbone (mandible) to the skull. These flexible muscles and joints are felt right in front of the ears and are needed to talk, chew, swallow, and yawn.

The most common cause is tension in the muscles that control the jaw, such as from clenching the jaw or grinding the teeth. TMD can also result from a joint problem present at birth or a joint problem from injury or arthritis.

Common symptoms include:

  • Pain on one or both sides of the jaw when opening the mouth, chewing, or yawning.
  • Headaches.
  • Painful clicking, popping, or grating sensations when opening the jaw.
  • An inability to open the jaw wide.
  • Locking of the jaw in an open or closed position.

Treatment may include rest, the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, and physical therapy. In some cases, dental splints might be used for a short period of time. Surgery or dental work are rarely needed.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerArden Christen, DDS, MSD, MA, FACD - Dentistry
Last RevisedJanuary 11, 2012

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