If your jaw is making a clicking or popping sound whenever you chew, yawn, or speak, here’s the first thing you should know: It may not be “normal” or “ideal” but it is common. The noise is usually related to movement of the articular disc in the jaw joint. Problems that contribute to jaw clicking can range from mild to severe. If the clicking is accompanied by frequent pain, it may be worth seeking an examination and perhaps treatment.
Here’s some additional information about the reasons why your jaw might be clicking.
Why the Jaw Clicks
The joint that connects your jawbone to the sides of your skull is known as the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ for short. Yes, it’s a mouthful (pun intended). If that joint becomes misaligned for any reason, it can result in that clicking or popping sound. If it’s serious enough, the condition can be diagnosed as temporomandibular disorder (TMD).
It may only be a temporary problem if the clicking is not painful and may resolve on its own in just a few days. If pain persists, it is worth looking into further either with your orthodontist at Melbourne Orthodontics or your general dentist.
Most Common Causes of Jaw Clicking
Clicking can be caused by problems with the muscles of the jaw, or by a problem with the joint itself. Jaw clicking can impact anyone at any age, although it does tend to affect women more than men. Here are some of the most common reasons why a person’s jaw can develop a clicking sound:
- Grinding the teeth during sleep (bruxism)
- Overworking the jaw joint and muscles
- Regularly clenching the jaw (due to stress, for example)
- Trauma to the jaw joint
- Genetic predisposition
- A bad bite (more rarely)
Most of these causes are out of the control of the individual experiencing the clicking. Let’s explore some of the more specific causes of joint sounds.
Arthritis is a disease that attacks the joints in the body, and that can include the temporomandibular joint. The condition results in cartilage (the supportive tissue between the bones and located in joints) being reduced to the point where the articular disc moves out of place and/or the bones rub against each other.
Arthritis in the TMJ can be accompanied by pain. The jaw’s movements become stiff and uncomfortable, and a person might have difficulty chewing food. There might even be swelling around the affected joint.
An injury to the jaw can cause the jaw to be dislocated or broken, but it can also lead to a clicking or popping sound. Common injury sources include car crashes, sports injuries, trip and falls, or even physical assaults. Jaw injuries often require medical treatment, because they make it too painful for a person to chew.
A malocclusion of the teeth is a fancy way of saying that someone has teeth that don’t fit together properly (or a bad bite). If the upper and lower teeth don’t line up correctly, it could lead to jaw problems, pain, and/or clicking over time. This is also one of the most common problems treated by orthodontists.
Oral Infections and inflammation
If an infection in the mouth or surrounding area is significant enough, related swelling can cause a misalignment of the TMJ. One result could be that clicking or popping sound. If an infection is causing your jaw to click, you will likely need a course of antibiotics to clear it up, which will many times allow the jaw to reposition on its own and stop making the popping sound.
How an Orthodontist in Melbourne or Indian Harbour Beach Can Help
The good news is that Melbourne Orthodontics in Melbourne and Indian Harbour Beach can help. If you have any of the above problems, we can assist you and do so likely without surgery. First though, you will need a proper diagnosis.
Once we diagnose the cause of your jaw clicking, we can help determine what the best course of action would be. Many times this involves fabricating an occlusal splint (usually worn at night), which can help reduce night time grinding and resulting tooth wear, while temporarily relieving bite problems while it is being worn. Other treatments might include braces or Invisalign. These tools help correct a poor bite, which in turn can be helpful for joint problems in some people.
Contact Melbourne Orthodontics
If you are experiencing joint symptoms including frequent discomfort, contact us at Melbourne Orthodontics or contact your general dentist to schedule an appointment. We will diagnose the problem and then get you on the path toward improving your symptoms!