Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD?)

What is Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD?)

Your Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects the mandible (jaw bone) to the skull. It works when you are eating, breathing, talking and also has close connections to your emotions. TMD develops when your TMJ is not working normally.

TMD Signs and Symptoms

  • Pain and tenderness aggravated by chewing and other joint activity.
  • Limited mouth opening.
  • Asymmetrical movement.
  • Joint sounds – clicking, popping.

How prevalent is TMD

  • 1/3 of the population suffer from TMD. It is the second most common musculoskeletal pain, low back pain being the first.

What causes TMD

TMD is multifactorial. The most common factors include:

  • Facial trauma (e.g. whiplash, blow to the chin).
  • Day time oral habits (e.g. nail biting, pen chewing).
  • Night time bruxism (e.g. teeth grinding, clenching).
  • Poor posture.
  • Sustained opening (e.g. singing, talking, dental work).
  • Emotional stress.

Each patient presents with their own individual profile of contributing factors.

Classification of common musculoskeletal TMD

  1. Masticatory (chewing) muscle disorders.
  2. Temporomandibular joint disorders.
  3. Headache attributed to TMD.
  4. A mixed presentation is common.

How is TMD diagnosed?

TMD is diagnosed by a Chartered Physiotherapist with specialist training in TMJ dysfunction.

How is TMD treated?

Once an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your TMD has been established, treatment will commence at the first session which can include:

  • Joint mobilisation of TMJ and neck.
  • Muscle massage
  • Posture correction
  • Relaxation exercises
  • Lifestyle advice.
  • Home exercise programme.

How to avoid aggravating your TMD

  • Avoid wide opening e.g. yawning.
  • Avoid biting / chewing hard foods e.g. apples, toffee
  • Avoid chewing gum, nails, and pen.
  • Avoid resting your chink on your hand.
  • Avoid sleeping on your front.
  • Adopt a relaxed jaw position.
  • Correct your sitting posture to prevent a forward head posture.
  • Teeth not in contact.
  • Minimal amount of muscle activity.


Each patient with TMD is different. This information is to give you a taste of what it’s management is all about. If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us at East Cork Physiotherapy, Balance and Acupuncture Clinic and speak to one of our Chartered Physiotherapists for further information on 021-4633455 or email info@eastcorkphysio.ie