What are the symptoms of temporomandibular disorder (TMD)?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

The symptoms for TMD can vary. Some form of pain is typically present such as jaw pain or soreness; pain or soreness of the muscles used for chewing; headaches; and pain in the neck, face, shoulders, back, or behind the eyes. Other symptoms include jaw popping or clicking, limited jaw movement, jaw dislocation, ear ringing, dizziness, teeth grinding or clenching, tooth sensitivity not brought on by oral disease, and numbness or tingling in the fingers.

If you have frequent headaches, earaches, tender jaw muscles, dull, aching facial pain or feel like your jaw locks or strays to one side when you open your mouth, you could be suffering from TMD. These aches and pains may be related to jaw joint, called the temporomandibular joint or TMJ, and the muscles that work to move the joint. These painful conditions are called TMD for temporomandibular disorders.

TMD can have many different signs and symptoms that range in severity. Some patients may experience symptoms without any apparent loss of function. Specific symptoms may include:
  • pain in or around the ear
  • tender jaw muscles
  • clicking or popping noises in the jaw
  • difficulty opening or closing the mouth
  • pain when yawning or chewing
  • jaw joints that feel as if they are "locked," "stuck," or they "go out"
  • headache
To determine the best way to treat your condition, schedule an appointment to see your dentist. Your dentist will thoroughly examine you and check your joints and muscles for tenderness, clicking, popping or difficulty moving. Your dentist can suggest the most appropriate therapy based on the suspected cause of the disorder.
Symptoms of temporomandibular disorder (TMD) include the following:
  • chronic facial pain
  • aching jaw
  • jaw pain or tenderness
  • jaw popping when you open or close your mouth
  • ear pain or sensitivity
  • headaches
  • neck pain
  • pain when chewing
Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) should not be confused with trigeminal neuralgia (TN), which is caused by a painful nerve on the side of the face.

Continue Learning about Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)

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Is temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder (TMJ) serious?
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TMJ is generally not serious. For most people, the pain and other symptoms associated with TMJ can b...
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.