Why does my jaw pop?

Have you ever wondered why you may hear a “clicking” or “popping” noise when you open your mouth? If so, it is possible you could be suffering from TMJ disorders, also known as, “TMD”.

What is TMJ/TMD?

The joint that supports your jaw, the Temporomandibular joint (or TMJ) is one of the more complex joints in the body, that both rotates and slides. It employs a cartilage disc to help it function smoothly. At times, the soft tissue in this joint can become inflamed due to a number of reasons (strain, over-use, grinding/clenching, parafunctional habits, or issues with the bite). Long lasting inflammation can lead to the formation of scar tissue that can affect the joint’s function, which can cause the clicking you may hear, and possibly pain. 

How TMD is treated:

Well, in some cases, just a little clicking – if not a nuisance- can be observed regularly. But if the clicking is painful or affects your function, after examining the situation you may sometimes be treated with a night guard, which allows your teeth to slide freely against each other instead of interdigitating. This relieves strain on the joint and muscles and can alleviate inflammation and symptoms in the joint. Other more advanced options can include special jaw exercises and therapy under the supervision of a TMJ specialist.

Jeffrey Schoenberg, D.D.S.

Dr. Schoenberg graduated from Lehigh University with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology, and received his D.D.S. degree at Columbia University’s College of Dental Medicine. Before entering private practice, he completed his General Practice Residency…

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