Jaw Joint Problems

Temporomandibular Joint Disorders-TMJ dysfunction (TMD) are a set of symptoms resulting from the improper functioning of the jaw joint and its associated muscles.


TMD stands for temporomandibular joint, describing the joint where the jaw bone connects to the skull. The chewing muscles, in conjunction with neck and back muscles, work to enable functions like chewing and swallowing. Any dysfunction in these joints and muscles can lead to various issues.

How Does TMD Develop?

For smooth functionality, your muscles and joints need to work together. Any issue in either can cause TMD. For instance, stress-induced teeth grinding and clenching lead to excessive tension in the jaw muscles and exert undue pressure, contributing to TMD. Diseases like trauma and arthritis cause direct damage to the joint or may result in tears in muscles and ligaments. Consequently, they can displace the cartilage within the joint, commonly known as the ‘disk.’

What Are the Symptoms of TMD?

Symptoms can include clicking or popping sounds during joint movement, pain around the joint, weakness, joint locking, or restricted movement, changes in biting or chewing sensations.


Clicking or popping sounds during joint movement indicate the displacement of the disk, showing the joint’s inward and outward movement. Sometimes, patients complain about symptoms seemingly unrelated to the jaw joint, such as sinus-type headaches, earaches, dizziness, neck, and upper back pain. Often, these symptoms are caused by involuntary teeth clenching or grinding during sleep.

How Is TMD Treated?

The primary goals are to alleviate muscle spasms and joint pain. This may involve pain relievers and muscle relaxants. Injecting steroids into the joint can reduce pain and inflammation. Self-care strategies are also highly effective, including:


  • Resting the jaw
  • Keeping your jaw slightly open when not eating
  • Consuming soft foods
  • Applying hot and cold packs
  • Jaw exercises
  • Positional exercises


Alongside the use of a ‘splint,’ stress management techniques (biofeedback, psychiatric therapy, etc.) can sometimes be employed. A bite splint, worn on the upper or lower teeth at night, keeps your teeth and jaw open, relaxing the chewing muscles and reducing pain.


There’s a variety of splints available. A night splint helps stop teeth clenching and grinding, preventing muscle spasms, and aids in protecting the joint surface and disk.


An anterior positioning appliance shifts your jaw forward, relaxing the biting muscles, and helps in repositioning the disk correctly. In some cases, it may need to be worn 24 hours a day.

Correction of Bite or Surgery?

If your TMD is due to misalignment of your teeth, bite correction, orthodontics, or dental treatment may be sufficient. Surgical treatment options like open joint surgery or arthroscopy might occasionally be necessary but are generally reserved for severe cases. We typically recommend surgical treatment only in situations where the jaw never closes, dislocations cannot be resolved, severe joint damage exists, or splint therapy has failed.