Do you hear a clicking sound when you move your jaws?

You might notice some noise from your jaw during chewing or when you yawn.

Most often, a noisy jaw isn’t concerning. However, if your mouth is cracking, clicking, popping or grinding and is accompanied with discomfort and/or difficulty using your teeth, it’s probably a sign of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).

What Is TMD?

TMD, medically known as temporomandibular joint disorder, causes the most common type of facial pain.

The temporomandible joints (TMJs) are two small structures located at either side of the head that allow the lower jawbone to move up and down. They also help keep the lower jawbone in position when eating, talking and yawn­ing.

Just like any other joint in the body, the temporomandibular joints can experience damage from aging and injury, causing pain and dysfunction.

What Percentage of People Suffer From Disorder?

According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS), approximately one out of five Americans has TMD. Of those who suffer, most are female.

According to the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology (AAOMP), approximately 2 million Americans see a dentist every year because they think they have TMD. This figure includes both patients who come to the dentist for other reasons and patients who were referred by dentistry professionals.

What Causes TMJ Disorder?

Traumatic myofascial dysfunction is caused by repetitive stress on the temporomandibular joint. Repetitive stress may come from clenching teeth, grinding them together or chewing gum excessively. In addition, people who work with their hands above shoulder level for extended periods of time, such as computer programmers, carpenters and assembly line workers, are also prone to developing TMJ problems.

Traumatic incidents including sports injuries, accidents, work-related injuries and facial fractures can also damage the TMJs. These incidents often result in muscular spasm, which can cause chronic TMJ disorders. 

Degenerative conditions such as arthritis, bruxism and tooth decay can also lead to TMD.

What Are the Symptoms of TMD?

Symptoms of TMJ disorder include:

  • Jaw pain
  • Headaches
  • Feeling as if your ears are blocked
  • Tingling or numbness in the face
  • Trouble chewing food
  • Sores on the tongue
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Facial muscle spasms
  • Clicking, snapping or popping noise when opening or shutting the mouth 

What Causes a Noisy Jaw?

The noise in your jaw is called crepitus. It comes from small particles breaking off the bone surfaces wearing away in your jaw joint. These particles are created by grinding together the bones of your jaw. The grinding is usually caused by an abnormal positioning of the teeth or a misalignment of the jaw.

Jaw popping is one of the most common noises people experience. It occurs when the lower jaw passes over the ridge in the upper jawbone, causing a loud pop.

The second type of “jowling” is when the cartilage-like disk between your upper and lower teeth gets stuck and starts rubbing against the bones of your skull. This causes a loud crackling noise.

Should I Be Concerned About My Noisy Jaw?

If you’re experiencing pain in your jaw when chewing, or you’re experiencing grinding, clicking or popping sounds, you should contact our office immediately. Don’t let this go untreated, because if left alone, it may cause further complications including permanent jaw injury.

Untreated TMJ disorders can be extremely painful. Many people report that the symptoms can be so severe that they disrupt their daily lives. If you have any questions regarding your TMJ disorder, please contact us right away. We look forward to hearing from you.

If you’re experiencing a noisy jaw and jaw pain, call us now to schedule your consultation.