Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are a group of diseases in the oral and maxillofacial region that can manifest as acute or chronic persistent pain, affecting millions of people worldwide. Although hundreds of studies have explored mechanisms and treatments underlying TMD, multiple pathogenic factors and diverse clinical manifestations make it still poorly managed. Appropriate animal models are helpful to study the pathogenesis of TMD and explore effective treatment measures. At present, due to the high cost of obtaining large animals, rodents and rabbits are often used to prepare TMD animal models. Over the past decade, various animal models have been intensively developed to understand neurobiological and molecular mechanisms of TMD, and seek effective treatments. Although these models cannot carry out all clinical features, they are valuable in revealing the mechanisms of TMD and creating curative access. Currently, there are multitudinous animal models of TMD research. They can be constructed in different means and summarized into four ways according to the various causes and symptoms, including chemical induction (intra-articular injection of ovalbumin, collagenase, formalin, vascular endothelial growth factor, intramuscular injection of complete Freund’s adjuvant, etc.), mechanical stress stimulation (passive mouth opening, change of chewing load), surgical operation (partial disc resection, joint disc perforation) and psychological stress induction. Here, we summarize and discuss different approaches of animal models for determining neurophysiological and mechanical mechanisms of TMD and assess their advantages and limitations, respectively.