woman with TMJ and headache pain
Temporomandibular disorders (TMD)

What are temporomandibular disorders?

Temporomandibular disorders are problems related to the jaw joint and the muscles and soft tissue in this area. This can result in headaches, jaw ache, toothache, joint noises and / or pain.

Fortunately here in Cheltenham we can help patients with TMD by using various dental splints and / or working in conjunction with other health care professionals.

What are the symptoms?

People with temperomandibular joint (TMJ) pain can experience severe pain. More women than men experience TMD; the general age range is 20-40 year olds.

The more common symptoms are:

  • Pain around the jaw joint and jaws
  • Headaches, neck and shoulder pain / ache
  • migraines
  • breaking teeth
  • pain behind the eyes
  • locking jaw or difficulty in opening and closing your jaw. It might feel stuck.
  • tinitus

What is the cause of TMJ joint problems?

The causes of TMJ problems are often multifactorial. The causes can be divided into 2 areas;

  • One due to the muscles around the TMJ being tense. This can be due to grinding and/or clenching one's teeth the cause of this may be stress or it could be predominantly coming from a back or neck problem. This can cause the muscles and joints to become sore.

  • The other is due to degeneration of the joint itself. This can be due to an injury, wear and tear or arthritis.

What is the treatment?

This depends on the problem. It might be jaw exercises alone or you may need a dental splint to support your jaw. This is normally only worn at night. Sometimes the teeth do not meet correctly and small adjustments can be made to allow the teeth to fit together better. This can then take the stress off the jaw joint and the surrounding tissue and allow healing to occur.

As TMJ problems can cause problems in the neck and further down the back (or back problems can cause TMJ problems), we will work with osteopaths if necessary to help the whole back and neck to realign.