Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is a painful problem of the jaw joints. These are the small joints in front of each ear. They attach the lower jaw to the skull. TMD problems may be in the joint in the jaw or the muscles around it.
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The cause of TMD is often not clear. It may be due to:
TMD is more common in women aged 30 to 50. Other things that may raise the risk are:
TMD may cause:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the jaw, teeth, face, and head.
Pictures may be needed of the jaw. This can be done with:
The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms. Choices are:
Some people may need surgery when other methods are not helpful. This is not common.
Avoid these habits to lower the risk of this problem:
Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association
The TMJ Association
Canadian Dental Association
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery
Gauer RL, Semidey MJ. Diagnosis and treatment of temporomandibular disorders. Am Fam Physician. 2015 Mar 15;91(6):378-386.
Temporomandibular disorders. American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons website. Available at: https://www.aaoms.org/docs/practice_resources/clinical_resources/tmd_disorders.pdf. Accessed October 28, 2020.
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction . EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/temporomandibular-disorders. Accessed October 28, 2020.
TMJ. American Dental Association Mouth Healthy website. Available at: http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/t/tmj. Accessed October 28, 2020.
TMJ. ENThealth—American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/content/tmj. Accessed October 28, 2020.
TMJ (temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders). National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website. Available at: http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/OralHealth/Topics/TMJ. Accessed October 28, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD Last Updated: 5/4/2021