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Sore Jaws? It might be TMD.

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When we experience sore jaws, we immediately suspect the dreaded toothache! But this may not be the case…

Temporomandibular Disorder  (TMD) refers  to pain and dysfunction as a result of a problem with the jaw, jaw joint and/ or surrounding facial muscles that control chewing and jaw movement.

About 60–70 per cent of the general population harbour at least one sign of a TMD .

TMD results in a large range of symptoms that vary for each individual and can include:

  • Significant face, neck and shoulder pain
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Chipped or worn teeth and tooth pain
  • Stiff/sore jaw muscles, usually presenting in the mornings
  • Limited mouth opening
  • Ear pain and ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Painful popping, clicking or grating of the jaw

The exact cause of TMD is complex and remains largely unresolved. Stress, trauma or poor jaw alignment are often considered as exacerbating factors rather than the original cause of TMD.

What can worsen TMD?

  • Injury to the jaw, joint, nerves or muscles of the head and neck e.g heavy blow, whiplash
  • Day and night grinding or clenching the teeth resulting in a lot of pressure on the joint (Bruxism)
  • Presence of osteo or rheumatoid arthritis in the joint and surrounding tissues
  • Emotional/ psychological stress
  • Sleep disorders and breathing difficulties

While no single treatment has proved universally effective for all patients, our aim is to treat patients holistically.

We suggest first, patients try simple steps that may aid in alleviating symptoms.

  1. Eating softer food
  2. Avoiding habits that may exacerbate jaw pain, such as chewing gum and biting your nails
  3. Modifying the pain with heat packs
  4. Relaxation techniques to control jaw tension, such as  stress management, limited work prior to sleep hours, meditation etc.

Where the above recommendations are not effective, current treatment options include:

  • Relaxation/ Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Oral appliances called occlusal splints or bite guards
  • Massage/ Manipulation/ Exercise of the TMJ and associated muscles by an osteopath, myotherapist or physiotherapist
  • Muscle relaxant injections (also known as Botox, Dysport) to counteract the hyperactivity of the muscles of mastication

In some more extreme cases, we may recommend fixing an uneven bite by adjusting or reshaping some teeth,  undergoing orthodontic treatment to correct a poorly aligned jaw or even jaw surgery.

If you suspect you have TMD or would like more information, call (03) 93333 6403  or send an email to, our friendly team are here to answer any of your questions.