My Jaw Always Pops: Can You Help?

misc image

It’s normal for your jaw to pop, click, or crack from time to time. It might startle you, but it doesn’t usually hurt or cause other problems. You’ll soon forget about it until at some later date it happens again before vanishing once more. 

A popping jaw is a problem, though, when it happens frequently and it’s accompanied by other symptoms. Jaw popping is a good indication that you have a temporomandibular joint disorder, usually abbreviated as TMJ. Your lower jaw hinges on each side and problems with these joints can make your life miserable. 

Your first line for treatment is your dentist. In Los Alamitos, California, that’s Dr. Richard Blackburn at Volterra Dental. Specializing in TMJ therapy, Dr. Blackburn and his team can help you return to a pop-free life. 

Recognizing TMJ

The popping sound might be your first indication of a TMJ problem. Though the jaw might seem like a simple hinge, it has a sliding movement too and a system of muscles and soft tissue that support movement for eating and speech. 

When your popping jaw occurs with other symptoms, it’s likely you have a TMJ issue. Common symptoms other than a pop or crack sensation include: 

  • Tenderness or pain in the jaw area
  • An ache or pain around or in your ear
  • Facial pain
  • Localized pain at one or both of the temporomandibular joints
  • Locking of the jaw, interfering with the opening or closing of the joint

As well as popping, you might feel grinding or grating sensations when you open or close your mouth. 

Reasons for jaw disorders

Often, the combination of events that lead to your case of TMJ may not be identified. It could stem from arthritis or an injury. The cushioning disc at the hinge point of the jaw might become irritated, eroded, or dislocated. You could have a chronic bruxism (teeth grinding) problem. Several elements could conspire to create a TMJ issue without one cause dominating. 

Treating TMJ

After reviewing your symptoms, examining your mouth, and taking 3D X-rays of your mouth, Dr. Blackburn develops a personalized treatment plan for you based on his findings. Your treatment could include: 

  • Night guards to ease teeth grinding and jaw clenching
  • Teeth straightening to improve the alignment of upper and lower arches (including Invisalign®)
  • Stress management therapy
  • Minor lifestyle changes to reduce overuse of the temporomandibular joints

Sometimes, TMJ symptoms resolve without treatment. If your jaw still moves with little discomfort and you can manage pain with over-the-counter medicine, you may see symptoms improve in about 10 days. If symptoms become more severe, don’t wait before seeking treatment. 

In rare cases, TMJ could require more extensive treatment or surgery. Dr. Blackburn and his team will advise you if this becomes a concern. 

Contact Volterra Dental when home care isn’t enough. You can schedule a TMJ consultation by phone or online. Book your visit today.