We all know about those cracks and “crunchies” in our knees, fingers, back, etc. But some of us experience these in our JAW, also known as you TMJ! Cue the sirens!!! Just kidding, we often forget that the jaw is a joint too and cracking and popping will occur here as well. So if you are a person with jaw clicking or you’re just curious, this is the place to start! We will review and explain the three primary causes of jaw clicking and popping.
Number one for jaw clicking!
A disc in my jaw? You read correctly, in case you did not know, there is a disc that sits in between the two bones of your jaw. Now as we open the disc slides forward and actually rotates. The disc normally rests in a little crevice in your mandible (jaw bone), but sometimes it can pop out a little – thus causing the pop you feel or even hear. Some people can even have two clicks; in this scenario the disc pops out like we just explained, and then it also clicks back. While each case has a different name, that is not important right now.
Next up, Arthritis!
Hopefully your doctor has explained that arthritis is a natural part of aging in everyone, just may not be painful in everyone! Arthritic changes are seen at the jaw after, give or take, the age of 55, but also with specific conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and other auto-immune disorders. In this example, people may feel a pop of clicking, but it is actually grinding of the bones that make up the jaw.
Muscles and clicks to cap things off!
Last but not least, the masseter muscle. This muscle is a prime mover of your jaw joint (TMJ) and can sometimes become tight for various reasons. This muscle is the one you can feel when you bite down on top of your jaw bone. When it becomes tight, that side can actually somewhat pull the jaw to the same side creating what we call a C-curve. This unequal pulling limits normal jaw opening, or both sides pull differently leading to the disc popping out. Even though the disc is popping out here as well, the cause is something different. The cause is a muscle issue.
Looking to put an end to jaw clicking or jaw pain?
Jaw clicking or popping can be normal just like with any other joint in our body; it could just be who you are. But, if you have pain in your jaw, headaches, or neck pain associated with the things we just reviewed you should give us a call! Jaw pain and dysfunction can cause other areas to go haywire too! Here is Free Jaw Pain Guide that provides several tips to alleviate pain. Even if you are just questioning about jaw tightness reach out and let us guide you to the next steps!