What is the number 1 cause of jaw pain?

There are many possible causes of jaw pain, but the most common cause is temporomandibular disorder (TMD). TMD is a condition that affects the muscles and joints that connect your lower jaw to your skull

Cameron Hemmert

April 8, 2023

What is the number 1 cause of jaw pain?

There are many possible causes of jaw pain, but the most common cause is temporomandibular disorder (TMD). TMD is a condition that affects the muscles and joints that connect your lower jaw to your skull. It can be caused by a number of things, including teeth grinding, clenching, or gnashing; misaligned teeth; arthritis; stress; and injury. TMD usually occurs between the ages 20-50 and women are twice as likely than men to experience TMD (Bueno et al., 2018).

If you're experiencing jaw pain, it's important to see a medical professional to find out what's causing it and to rule out infection or conditions involving the teeth.

I have been told I have TMJ, is this different to temporomandibular disorder (TMD)?

TMJ is the abbreviation of "temporomandibular joint", which is simply the name of the two bones that make up the joint (the temporal bone is a bone of the skull and the mandible is the name of the bottom jaw). Jaw pain is commonly (and incorrectly) referred to as TMJ, which is an acronym for the temporomandibular joint by itself.

The correct term is temporomandibular disorder (TMD), which refers to conditions that cause pain and affect the temporomandibular joint, as well as the surrounding muscles, ligaments and nerves.

What are the symptoms of TMD?

There are a variety of symptoms that can be associated with jaw pain, and the severity of these symptoms can vary from person to person. Some common symptoms include:

– Pain in the jaw, face, or neck

– Clicking or popping sounds when moving the jaw

– Difficulty chewing or pain when chewing

– Pain when opening the mouth wide

– Lockjaw (jaw muscle spasm)

– A feeling of fatigue in the jaw muscles

(Liu & Steinkeler, 2013)

Treatment for conditions affecting the TMJ

Treatment for TMD depends on the underlying cause, but if it is related to the biomechanics of the jaw it can be managed with physiotherapy. If you think you may have TMD, it’s important to seek advice from a medical professional like your dentist or physiotherapist so they can properly diagnose and treat the condition. In the meantime, there are some things you can do at home to help relieve symptoms, such as eating soft foods, avoiding chewing gum, and practicing relaxation techniques (Jinich-Diamant et al., 2020).

3 ways physiotherapy can help with jaw pain (TMD)

  1. Physiotherapy can help with muscle control around the jaw to restore optimum movement patterns and reduce irritation.
  2. Physiotherapy can help to reduce stiffness of joints that are limiting the proper movement of the jaw, which helps reduce pain and aggravation.
  3. Physiotherapy can help identify and treat other pain drivers that may be increasing pain around the jaw joint and muscles.

At Hyper Health our physiotherapists are trained to accurately assess and treat conditions of the jaw and will happily work in conjunction with your GP or dentist to give you the best outcome. If you have any questions then feel free to send us an email to find out more information and how we can assist your recovery.


  1. Bueno, C.H. et al. (2018) “Gender differences in temporomandibular disorders in adult populational studies: A systematic review and meta-analysis,” Journal of Oral Rehabilitation, 45(9), pp. 720–729. Available at:https://doi.org/10.1111/joor.12661.

  2. Jinich-Diamant, A. et al. (2020) “Neurophysiological mechanisms supporting mindfulness meditation–based pain relief: An updated review,” Current Pain and Headache Reports, 24(10). Available at:https://doi.org/10.1007/s11916-020-00890-8.

  3. Liu, F. and Steinkeler, A. (2013) “Epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment of temporomandibular disorders,” Dental Clinics of North America, 57(3), pp. 465–479. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cden.2013.04.006.

  4. Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) (2021) Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) | Johns Hopkins Medicine. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/temporomandibular-disorder-tmd#:~:text=Temporomandibular%20disorders%20(TMD)%20are%20disorders,may%20result%20in%20temporomandibular%20disorder. (Accessed: November 24, 2022).

  5. Temporomandibular dysfunction Australian Journal of General Practice. Available at:https://www1.racgp.org.au/ajgp/2018/april/temporomandibular-dysfunction. (Accessed: November 24, 2022).

  6. Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ & TMD): Overview (no date) WebMD. WebMD. Available at:https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/temporomandibular-disorders-tmd. (Accessed: November 24, 2022).

  7. TMD (temporomandibular disorders) National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/health-info/tmd. (Accessed: November 24, 2022).

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