Why Does My Jaw Pop When I Chew?

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If you're troubled by jaw popping or jaw clicking noises while you chew, there may be a problem with your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The TMJ is the joint that connects your jaw to your skull. Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) can sometimes make it hard for patients to open their jaws, even cause pain while chewing, and may require TMJ therapy.

At Evolution Dentistry, Dr. Mohamad El-Kheir has extensive experience treating TMJ issues to restore jaw function to patients in Houston, TX.

Below, we'll look at what causes TMJ popping and clicking and how it can be resolved at Evolution Dentistry.

Why does my jaw pop or click when I chew?

TMD occurs when the TMJ impedes the movement of the jaw. In order to find the underlying cause of this impairment, Dr. El-Kheir will examine the muscles around your jaw and ask about your habits. He will also explore any evidence of teeth grinding (which typically happens while you sleep), jaw clenching, or misalignment of the teeth that may lead to TMJ pain or abnormalities. TMDs that cause jaw clicking and popping can also be caused by arthritis of the jaw.

In some cases, a physical examination will reveal underlying causes, but some patients may need x-rays or a bite analysis if their problem runs deeper into the jawbone.

What are other signs of TMJ disorder?

When the TMJ is impaired, patients typically experience discomfort or difficulty when talking or eating, in addition to popping or clicking sounds when they open and close their mouths.

Other signs of TMD include:

  • Limited jaw mobility (including stiffness or jaw locking)

  • Tooth, jaw, neck, or face pain

  • Headaches

  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)

  • Unexplained earaches

  • A feeling of congestion in the ears

How do you stop your jaw from clicking or popping?

Treatment for a TMJ disorder will depend on your specific jaw issues and can only be determined after a thorough investigation by a trained dentist.

Treatments for TMD can include:

  • Nightguards (to prevent teeth grinding)

  • Splint therapy

  • Bite equilibrium

  • Pain relievers, such as NSAIDs

  • Muscle relaxers

  • Dietary changes (such as incorporating softer foods)

  • Jaw exercises and jaw relaxation techniques

TMJ disorders rarely go away on their own. Jaw abnormalities are typically progressive, which means they can worsen over time if they're not treated effectively.

Is jaw clicking or popping always a sign of a serious issue?

If your jaw clicks or pops occasionally, it's still wise to bring the issue up with your dentist during your regular exams. We don't yet know every cause of jaw popping;. Some people experience this symptom infrequently and without any other signs of a TMJ disorder.

Temporary jaw popping and clicking can result from habits such as biting the inside of the cheek, nail-biting, or excessive gum chewing. If reducing these activities removes jaw popping or clicking, it's wise to break these habits before they cause long-term damage to the TMJ.

In rare cases, TMDs may be caused by serious conditions, such as tumors. Because there are so many possible causes of jaw popping and clicking, patients can get peace of mind and good advice early on to prevent the symptoms and any anxiety that may accompany them.

Get TMJ therapy for jaw popping in Houston, TX

If your jaw clicks or pops when you open and close your mouth and you live in the Houston, TX area, Evolution Dentistry may be able to help. TMD is common, affecting roughly 10 million U.S. adults, and our team has extensive experience diagnosing and treating TMD and restoring patients’ jaw function.

The first step is to schedule a consultation with Dr. Mohamad El-Kheir to get to the root of the problem.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.