Four expert-approved ways to pay less tax
Four expert-approved ways to pay less tax

Nick Charalambous

This Monkstown home is a serene dream, yet still perfectly suited to the demands of family life
This Monkstown home is a serene dream, yet still perfectly suited to the demands of...

IMAGE Interiors & Living

Crossing: Director Levan Akin on his new film, patriarchy and the importance of family
Crossing: Director Levan Akin on his new film, patriarchy and the importance of family

Sarah Finnan

Weekend Guide: Festivals, exhibitions, and more great events
Weekend Guide: Festivals, exhibitions, and more great events

Sarah Gill

IMAGE staff pick their top skincare products from French beauty brands
IMAGE staff pick their top skincare products from French beauty brands

Edaein OConnell

Inside the former tram ticketing office on the market for €680,000
Inside the former tram ticketing office on the market for €680,000

Sarah Finnan

The rise of teeth gems on the Irish scene
The rise of teeth gems on the Irish scene

Oyindamola Animashaun

Page Turners: ‘The Story Collector’ author Evie Woods
Page Turners: ‘The Story Collector’ author Evie Woods

Sarah Gill

5 foolproof summer ‘fits
5 foolproof summer ‘fits

Sarah Finnan

The massage I’ve spent the past month thinking about
The massage I’ve spent the past month thinking about

Sarah Gill

Image / Self / Health & Wellness

Ask the Doctor: ‘I suffer with terrible jaw pain — could this be TMD, and how do I treat it?’


By Sarah Gill
26th Jul 2023
Ask the Doctor: ‘I suffer with terrible jaw pain — could this be TMD, and how do I treat it?’

All your burning health questions answered by the professionals.

”I have been suffering with terrible pain in my jaw for a number of years and was told I could be suffering from TMD. I have been taking painkillers and anti-inflammatories for a number of years on and off for this. Taking tablets so often is not something I want to do. Are there any other treatment options for me? Thank you.”

jaw pain TMD

Answer from Mr Deepak Thomas, Consultant Oral Surgeon, Beacon Hospital

TMD, or Temporomandibular Disorders, is a term used for a group of conditions which involve pain and/or dysfunction in the jaw joints, masticatory (chewing) muscles and other surrounding structures. Most TMD conditions are treatable and patients notice significant improvement in their quality of life when the condition is appropriately managed.

TMD is not uncommon. Each year, almost 20% of adults develop painful symptoms. Disorders of the TMJ are indicated by the following:

  • Tenderness or jaw pain with, or without, clicking
  • Joint pain (could be in one or two joints)
  • Pain radiating to the patient’s ear, temple and face. Sometimes also causing occasional headaches
  • Pain on chewing
  • Difficulty in opening or closing the mouth
  • Clicking and occasional locking of the jaw

To be diagnosed with TMD, you could have one, any combination of some, or even all of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms.

Some other painful symptoms leading to TMD include headaches, fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), depression and sleep disturbances.

A TMD diagnosis combines a number of tools before a diagnosis can be given.

These include a thorough history, the use of a screening questionnaire, a physical examination as well as in some cases, X-rays, CT and MRI scans, and less commonly, blood tests.

Although common, Temporomandibular Disorders are not life threatening. There can be significant, yet rare, clinical entities which mimic this condition, hence the importance of seeking medical or dental help for suspected TMD. These conditions can include infections, autoimmune diseases and more rarely, malignant tumours.

Managing Temporomandibular Disorder conditions is focused on addressing pain, jaw function and subsequent related disability.

Management may include the use of reversible and conservative treatments and self-care techniques such as diet, massage, fitting and use of intraoral appliances (mouth guards), medications and occasional psychological therapies.

Physical therapies sometimes used for treatment can include a combination of jaw exercises and sometimes even the use of Botox injected into certain affected muscles.

Most patients suffering from TMD will notice significant improvements with these non-invasive techniques. Less often, some patients may require surgical interventions which can include joint scopes, washouts, joint injections and in more extreme cases, may require complex jaw joint surgery.

Have a question for the professionals you’d like answered? Get in touch with [email protected] with the subject headline ‘Ask The Doctor’.