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The jaw joints and the muscles that allow you to chew, swallow, speak and yawn are known as tempormandibular.  A problem with how the joints or muscles work may lead to temporomandibular disorder.



  • tender or sore jaw muscles

  • problems opening or closing your mouth

  • headaches, pain near your ear and or your neck

  • clicking or grinding noise when you chew or yawn



The causes of TMD are not always clear but in most cases stress is a major factor.  

  • clenching and grinding of the teeth can cause jaw and neck muscles to ache, this can happen while we are asleep. 

  • injury to your face or jaws can cause a jaw joint to be knocked out of place or become inflamed

  • some diseases such as arthritis may affect the jaw joints and muscles

  • partial or full dentures that don’t fit right

  • habits such as biting on a pen or clenching or holding the jaw forwards.



  • Be aware of clenching and grinding your teeth.  Your teeth should only come together when you are chewing or swallowing, otherwise there should be a small space between your upper and lower teeth.  Try to relax your jaw, lips together, teeth apart.  When your jaw is relaxed:

    • teeth should be slightly apart

    • tongue should be resting gently against the roof of your mouth

    • lips should be relaxed and barely touching or slightly apart

  • Watch what you eat, stay away from hard or sticky foods, don’t chew gum.  Don’t open wide to eat a large burger or sandwich.  Cut food into small pieces.  When you yawn, place your fist under your chin to limit how far you open.

  • Massage and stretch your jaw muscles, but if anything begins to hurt more, stop.

  • Use a compress, warm or cold, whichever feels better at the time. 

  • Depending on what your dentist finds when they do an examination they may suggest:

    • referral to a physiotherapist, chiropractor or registered massage therapist

    • wearing a nightguard -a splint made of clear plastic that fits over the biting surfaces of your teeth of one jaw so you bite on the splint, not your teeth.  This helps the jaw joints and muscles relax.

    • a prescription for medicine for pain, inflammation or tense muscles

    • referral to an oral surgeon

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