Is TMD the same as a clicking sound in my jaw?

Do you have a clicking sound in your jaw? Do you have difficulty in opening and closing your mouth? Do you get facial pain? Then, the chances are that you are suffering from TMD.

What is TMD?

Says Dr R M Lalitha, Senior Oral And Maxillofacial Surgeon——-“Your lower jaw is movable and I held to the head by a joint called the TMJ or the temporomandibular joint. This joint is described a s being a “synovial joint”, wherein the joint contains a fluid and is supported by muscles and ligaments. Any injury or distress in any one component of the joint apparatus can cause pain. This condition is called TMD ( Temporomandibular disorder)”

What causes TMD?

TMD can be caused by:

  • Grinding of teeth or bruxism
  • wear and tear of the joint
  • a blow to the head or face
  • stress
  • an uneven bite
  • Impacted teeth
  • Missing teeth that are not replaced
  • Old dentures where the teeth are worn out

What are the signs and symptoms of TMD?

Dr Lalitha warns——“If you notice the following signs or symptoms, you can be suffering from TMD

  • Pain around your jaws 
  • Pain around your ears and temple sometimes extending to the next and the shoulders
  • Difficulty in your mouth opening and closing
  • Difficulty in chewing or pain on chewing
  • Facial pain 
  • Swelling on the affected side
  • Pain in one or both the joints
  • Clicking, popping or grinding sounds when you move your jaw”

What are the risk factors in TMD?

These factors may increase the risk of developing TMJ disorders 

  • Various types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis
  • Jaw injury
  • Long-term (chronic) grinding or clenching of teeth
  • Certain connective tissue diseases that cause problems that may affect the temporomandibular joint

How can I reduce my TMD pain?

Dr Subash, Senior Dentist and Radiologist says “There are some simple things you can do to try to reduce your jaw pain.”


  • eat soft food, like rice, omelettes and soup
  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen
  • hold ice packs or heat packs to the jaw, whichever feels better
  • massage the painful jaw muscles
  • try to find ways to relax like meditation


  • 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 )
  • do not rest your chin on your hand


When should I see a  dentist?

Plan to see your Dentist if

  • you’re unable to eat or drink
  • the pain is affecting your life
  • the pain is affecting your sleep
  • the pain and discomfort keeps coming back

How will my dentist diagnose my TMD pain?

You dentist will ask you some questions to elicit a history of any accident or injury to your joint and do a physical examination of your joint to check for any tenderness, clicking or swelling near the affected joint. He can advice an X- ray, CT scan or an MRI to evaluate the bony and other soft tissues in the area.

What are the treatment options available to me for TMD?

Your Dentist may suggest:

  • strong painkillers
  • relaxation techniques like meditation to reduce stress
  • ways to improve your sleep
  • Use moist warm or ice packs for 15 minutes several times a day to relieve pain
  • a night guard, if teeth grinding might be an issue
  • Physiotherapy
  • a psychologist, if stress and anxiety are making your pain worse

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


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