Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Surgery

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located in front of your ear, where the skull and the lower jaw meet.

The joint allows the lower jaw (mandible) to move and function. The joint itself is made up of two bones that are separated by a disc of cartilage. Ligaments and muscles surround the joint.

Problems with the jaw joint are very common but usually last only a few months before getting better.

In some instances, only the muscles are affected (myofacial pain dysfunction). In other cases, there can be problems with the cartilages and ligaments (internal derangement of temporomandibular joint).

The most common symptoms are:

  • Joint noise – such as clicking, cracking, crunching, grating or popping
  • Pain, usually a dull ache in and around the ear - the pain may radiate, ie move forwards along the cheekbone or downwards into the neck
  • Headache
  • Limited mouth opening

Most jaw joint problems are made worse by chewing and are aggravated at times of stress.

Contact us


Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (Wonford) 

Main switchboard on 01392 411611



North Devon District Hospital 

Main switchboard on 01271 322577

Where to find us

Your healthcare professional will advise where your appointment will take place. Your appointment may take place at one of our outpatient clinics situated within our main hospital sites or within the community.

Eastern services

Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (Wonford) 

Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (Wonford)

Barrack Road



Level 1, Area J

Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery

Multiple routine, new and follow-up clinics at RD&E Wonford.

Follow-up Clinics at Tiverton Hospital, Axminster Hospital and North Devon District Hospital.


Northern Services

North Devon District Hospital 

North Devon District Hospital

Raleigh Park



EX31 4JB

Meet the team

  • Mr Michael Esson, Consultant Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon
  • Mr Andrew McLennan, Consultant Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon
  • Mr John Bowden Consultant, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon

Services and treatments

We carry out a range of treatments on jaw disorders, from simple procedures to open surgery. They include:

  • TMJ steroid injections
  • Jaw joint washout (arthrocentesis)
  • Relocation of dislocated TMJ
  • Surgical treatment for recurrent TMJ dislocation
  • Open jaw joint procedures for abnormal jaw growth
  • Open jaw joint procedures for arthritic changes and reduced or painful mouth opening
  • Jaw exercises and physiotherapy

Patient information leaflets

We produce a wide range of leaflets which provide information about our services and about the treatment you might receive in our clinics or during your stay in hospital. 

We also produce these in different formats including large print, please contact the department you are visiting for more information.

Find out more

Last updated: November 16, 2022.