Dental Blog / Is Your Jaw Clicking? Here are Some Causes

Is Your Jaw Clicking? Here are Some Causes

Has your jaw been clicking or popping? Are you wondering why? We’ve got you covered with some information below that might help you figure out what’s going on.

Continue reading to learn more, but keep in mind: seeing your dentist is the best way to get an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment to resolve any issues you’ve having with your jaw.

First, We Need to Talk About TMD

TMD is short for temporomandibular joint disorder and can also be referred to as TMJ. You might have heard of it, but you might not know exactly what it is.

Put simply, TMD is a condition that affects the temporomandibular joint. That’s the hinge on either side of your face that connects your jaw to your skull. When you open and close your mouth, it’s this jaw that works, and it also allows you to move your jaw backward and forward, as well as side to side.

Want to find this joint? Place your fingers in front of your ears and open and close your mouth. Feel it? Neat, right?

So, when you have TMD, a problem arises within this complex and important joint, causing symptoms like discomfort, pain, clicking, or popping. And the disorder can make it difficult to do simple things like chew your food, talk, and even yawn. Ouch!    

What causes TMD? Well, it’s sometimes hard, even for dentists, to figure out the root of the problem. There are a variety of things that can contribute to this disorder, and they include trauma, malocclusion, arthritis, and bruxism (clenching and grinding the teeth), as just a few examples.

Is Your Clicking Jaw a Symptom of TMD?

If your jaw is clicking but you aren’t experiencing any pain, and you aren’t experiencing any limitations when opening and moving your jaw, it might not be TMD. Even occasional discomfort in the muscles or joint may not be anything serious, and the clicking might come and go as well. That’s good news!   

Clicking in your jaw might be mild and temporary, lasting only a little while before going away on its own. If you’re having more severe or ongoing symptoms, however, a more serious issue, or TMD, might be to blame.

What Can You Do to Relieve Clicking in the Jaw?

There are some things you can try at home to help stop your jaw from clicking and popping. Here are some examples:

  • Avoid chewing gum, and avoid foods that are crunchy, hard, or chewy, as these can all put excess strain on the jaw and make the popping and clicking worse. Take small bites so you don’t have to open your jaw as wide and try to stick with soft foods until your jaw issues resolve.

  • Massaging and stretching the muscles of the face and jaw might help you get rid of the clicking you’re experiencing, but this is best done with the help of a physical therapist, doctor, or dentist.

  • Feeling stressed? Clenching your jaw because you’re tense? Try stress-relieving strategies like deep breathing, meditation, and exercise. You can even make it a point to relax your jaw by keeping a bit of space between your upper and lower teeth.  

Remember, if the discomfort you’re feeling persists, or if you notice that you aren’t able to open or close the jaw properly, it’s best to see a dental professional who can pinpoint what’s going wrong with your jaw.

Jaw Symptoms? See Your Dentist for Advice!

Even though a painless clicking in your jaw might not be anything to worry about, it’s still a great idea to make an appointment with your dentist for a checkup. He or she can examine your jaw and take X-rays to evaluate the health of your temporomandibular joint. If it’s determined that you have TMD, you can start receiving the appropriate treatment to get relief, based on the cause of the problem.

Concerned about being able to afford trips to the dentist for symptoms like clicking or popping sounds in your jaw? The right dental insurance can help! Search for the ideal plan on the Direct Benefits Marketplace, where you’ll find comprehensive coverage that will give you peace of mind.