When you experience jaw clicking or popping, it can be a painful or uncomfortable sensation. This common phenomenon is caused by a misalignment of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)- which are the joints that connect the jaw to the rest of the skull. This is what helps your jaw attain a large range of movement, allowing you to chew, eat, sing, yawn- really anything that has to do with moving your jaw!
If your jaw clicking or popping is accompanied by pain, it may be time to see a TMJ specialist like Dr. Eddie Siman.
Why is My Jaw Clicking?
There are a few common causes for jaw clicking. They include:
Clenching your jaw Grinding your teeth Holding your mouth in unnatural positions Biting your fingernails, lip or cheek Frequently chewing gum
Performing these behaviors regularly can cause your TMJ to wear out, thereby causing the clicking sound. Sometimes, however, the clicking can be attributed to an underlying condition that would need medical treatment down the road.
Potential Underlying Illnesses
Sleep apnea is a potentially fatal disorder that causes a person’s breathing to pause or cease involuntarily. Depending on the type of sleep apnea you have, the reasons for this will be different. If you have Obstructive Sleep Apnea or OSA, this cessation of breathing is caused by a narrowness in the airways.
You may wish to talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms:
Daytime drowsiness Depression Leg Swelling Snoring Headaches
If you have Central Sleep Apnea or CSA, it is because your brain is not accurately signaling the muscles needed to perform the involuntary breathing action while you sleep. This disorder may cause you to experience:
Full-body weakness Difficulty swallowing Changes in voice Changes in speech patterns
Teeth malocclusion is exactly why getting braces is so important. Malocclusion is just a medical way of saying that your jaw and teeth are misaligned- whether you have crowded teeth, a crossbite, an overbite, or otherwise. This can cause your jaw to pop.
It will be obvious if you have this particular ailment, but here are a few other connected symptoms:
Biting inner cheeks or tongue Mouth breathing Speech issues like lisps Altered facial appearance
If you have a broken or dislocated jaw, you might hear clicking or popping, too. This is because your jaw has become unhinged, and should be treated by a doctor right away.
Those with broken or dislocated jaws can also experience:
Swelling Bleeding Numbness Bruising
Myofascial Pain Syndrome
Myofascial Pain Syndrome or MPS is a disorder that causes localized chronic musculoskeletal pain. If you have MPS in your jaw, you may experience painful jaw clicking.
We commonly associate arthritis with hands, knees, and hips, but you can get arthritis in your jaw, too. Rheumatoid and osteoarthritis can affect the TMJ and jaw, causing a lower range of motion and pain in other parts of your body.
This isn’t great news, but we’ll help you figure out if you need to start seeing a specialist. A few other symptoms you might experience are:
Anemia Tiredness Loss of appetite
Arthritis will require long-term treatment from your physician or doctor.
So, What Do I Do?
We don’t recommend going too far with home treatments as you could exacerbate the problem fairly easily.
Though treating a dislocated or broken jaw temporarily with heat and pain killers until you can see a doctor is always a good idea.
If you have a sturdy, well-reinforced retainer, start wearing that at night if you have a teeth-grinding or jaw clenching issue.
If your jaw clicking worsens or becomes painful and refuses to go away, you don’t have to go through any of this alone. Dr. Eddie Siman can help.