Jaw clicking or popping – refers to a clicking/popping sound from the jaw, sometimes accompanied by a sensation of pain. You may hear this sound when you open your mouth too wide while yawning or eating, at other times, it may be the result of a problem with the function of the Temporomandibular joints (TMJ). The TMJ connects the jawbone to the skull and acts like a sliding hinge. We have one TMJ on each side of the jaw. It is because of the hinge action of the TMJ that we are able to yawn, chew, and talk.
What Causes Jaw Clicking
While the exact causes of jaw clicking aka TMJ or Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) are still not entirely known, medical experts believe that multiple factors may contribute to jaw clicking. Some of these factors include:
- misalignment of jaw bones as a result of injury or disease
- congenital misalignment of jaw bones (inherited deformity)
- malocclusion of the teeth
- broken or dislocated jaw
- arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis can impact the Temporomandibular joint)
- myofascial pain syndrome in the jaw
- infection in the salivary gland
- tumor formation in the cheek, lips, gums, tongue, or on the mouth floor
- sleep apnea
How to Treat It
Treatment for jaw clicking or jaw popping range from simple home remedies to complex surgical procedures, depending on the severity of the symptoms, initial diagnosis, and your overall health, your doctor/dentist will advise a treatment plan specifically for you.
Your doctor/dentist may prescribe the following medications to help relieve the pain associated with TMJ or TMD:
- muscle relaxants
- pain relievers and non-steroidal anti-inflammation drugs (NSAIDs)
- tricyclic antidepressants
These medications are only aimed at relieving pain and swelling associated with jaw clicking.
People who do not want to take drugs may try these therapies for the TMJ disorder:
- physical therapy – such as manual treatment and stretching exercises
- occlusal appliances – such as oral splints and mouth guards
- counseling – such as CBT
Your doctor/dentist may recommend any one or all of the above non-drug therapies to help address the symptoms associated with TMJ.
- Surgical Procedures
When all the above treatment options fail to yield any significant results, your doctor/dentist may advise the following surgical procedures:
- Open-joint surgery
- TMJ arthroscopy
- Modified condylotomy
If you do decide to undergo surgery, make sure to discuss all the potential benefits and risks associated with each type of option with your doctor/dentist.
If you would like to try conservative treatment give us a call or book online.
Melbourne Natural Therapies