Temporomandibular disorder (TMD)

Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is a condition affecting the movement of the jaw. It's not usually serious and generally gets better on its own.

Check if you have temporomandibular disorder (TMD)

Symptoms of TMD include:

The pain may be worse when chewing and when you feel stressed.

TMD can also stop you getting a good night's sleep.

How to ease temporomandibular disorder (TMD) yourself

Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) usually gets better without treatment. But there are things you can do to ease the symptoms.


  • eat soft food, like pasta, omelettes and soup

  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen

  • hold an ice pack or heat pack wrapped in a tea towel to the jaw, whichever feels better

  • massage the painful jaw muscles

  • try to find ways to relax


  • do not chew gum or pen tops

  • do not bite food with your front teeth

  • do not yawn too wide

  • do not bite your nails

  • do not clench your teeth – apart from when eating, your teeth should be apart

How to make your own ice packs and heat packs

Try either:

  • a pack of frozen peas, wrapped in a tea towel, for no more than 5 minutes at a time
  • a hot water bottle, wrapped in a tea towel, twice a day for 15 to 20 minutes

Urgent advice: Get advice from 111 now if:

You have pain around your jaw, ear or temple:

  • while eating
  • and frequent, severe headaches
  • and a sore scalp
  • and vision problems, such as double vision or loss of vision in 1 or both eyes

These can be signs of a serious problem that needs urgent treatment.

You can call 111 or get help from 111 online.

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • you're unable to eat or drink
  • the pain is affecting your daily life
  • the pain is affecting your sleep
  • the pain and discomfort keep coming back

Treatments for temporomandibular disorder (TMD) from a GP

The GP may suggest:

They might suggest you see:

If these treatments do not help, you may be referred to a specialist in joint problems to discuss other options, such as painkilling injections or surgery.

Causes of temporomandibular disorder (TMD)

Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) can be caused by:

Page last reviewed: 20 June 2023
Next review due: 20 June 2026