Jaw pain or clicking when you’re eating? You might have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD)

By Sophie Marshall

The temporomandibular joints (your jaw) are some of the most used joints in your body, as they are involved in eating, breathing, talking and facial expressions.

TMD can have many causes. Some common triggers include teeth clenching and grinding (which can be brought on by stress), injuries to the area, arthritic conditions, dental work or surgery that alters your bite, or anatomical deformities of your teeth or jaw.

Common symptoms of TMD include:

  • Jaw pain or discomfort
  • Clicking or locking of the joint
  • Headaches
  • Reduced jaw range of movement
  • Neck or facial pain
  • Earache or tinnitus

Conservative, non-invasive treatment such as physiotherapy is recommended in the management of TMD. Physiotherapy can reduce pain and improve function. In some cases, patients require other treatment such as intraoral appliances (mouthguards or splints), medication, injections, and occasionally surgery.

Physiotherapy treatment for TMD may include joint mobilisations, massage, acupuncture or dry needling, and the prescription of home exercises and self-management strategies.

Did you know? Your teeth should only touch as you swallow!

“Bad habits” to avoid that may be contributing to your symptoms of TMD:

  • Clenching or grinding your teeth
  • Chewing gum
  • Taking large bites of food
  • Chewing only on one side of your mouth
  • Biting your nails, pens etc.
  • Resting your chin on your hand
  • Chin sitting (resting your chin on your hand)

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