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Temporomandibular joint dysfunction

Pain and other symptoms affecting the head, face, and jaw that are thought to arise when the temporomandibular joints and the muscles and ligaments attached to them do not function together correctly or as they should.

A widespread cause of temporomandibular joint dysfunction is spasm of the chewing muscles, which is usually caused by grinding or clenching the teeth as a result of emotional tension.

Malocculusion (an incorrect bite) can be a contributing factor because it places additional stress on the muscles. Temporomandibular joint problems can also be caused head, jaw, or neck injuries. In uncommon cases, osteoarthritis can be the cause.


Frequently seen symptoms include headaches, aching facial pain, particularly around the ear, and tenderness of the jaw muscles. There can also be problems in opening the mouth, locking of the jaws, clicking noises as the mouth is opened or closed, or pain caused by opening the mouth wide or chewing.


In most cases, the condition clears up without treatment. If treatment is necessary, it can include drugs such as nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesics, muscle relaxants or anti-depressants. They can be used alone or in a combination with other treatments, such as bio feedback, jaw exercises, and the use of bite guards. Certain people also find self-help measures beneficial, including eating only soft foods, avoiding overuse of the jaw, applying heat and massaging the affected muscles; and relaxation techniques. In extreme persistent cases, injections of corticosteroids drugs into the joint or surgery can be necessary.

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