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Frequently Asked Questions

Why My Jaw Pops and Clicks

The jaw joint is one of the most complex joints in the body. At 58 Dental, we help many Denver residents with issues associated with their jaw, also known as TMD. One of the most common complaints from patients is that their jaw clicks or pops and they want to know why.

Just like your knee, there is a disc in the jaw joint. These tiny discs sit between the head of the jaw and the base of the skull. The disc helps the jaw move smoothly as you open and close your mouth.

If the disc is out of place, which is common in patient’s suffering with TMD, you can sometimes hear or feel it click or pop. As a patient, you might have felt this when you open or close. Sometimes it’s loud enough that you’ll hear a startling “pop” that sounds like it’s coming from within your ear. In other cases, patients will learn how to move their jaw in a certain way to get the joint to click/pop just so they can open their mouth.

Pain or discomfort may or may not be associated with a clicking or popping jaw joint, but make no mistake, it is a sign that something is not right in the jaw joint.

So, what can you do? The earlier the issue can be addressed and the younger the patient is, the greater the chance for success. Treatment for TMD is a complex subject so we’ll discuss some pretty big generalizations here.

  1. Get the disc back into position:  This is usually done by repositioning the jaw to help the head of the jaw joint and the disc to realign with one another.  Patients will wear a splint that repositions the jaw and allows the joint complex to realign.
  2. Help the jaw find its natural position:  Once the disc is realigned and the complex has “healed,” it’s very important the jaw be allowed to find its natural position.  In most instances there is a discrepancy between the way the dental patient’s teeth come together and where the jaw actually wants to seat.  TMD patients will wear a splint that allows the jaw to find its natural home.
  3. Find harmony between the jaw joint, jaw muscles, and teeth: Usually in TMD patients there is a discrepancy between the “bite” and where the jaw joint wants to be positioned.  This leads to stress developing in the jaw joint, jaw muscles, and the teeth.  Over time it can lead to the disc being displaced. This short blog isn’t the place to discuss the intricacies of finding this harmony but suffice it to say that if everything is positioned and functioning appropriately patients have few if any issues.

In summation, if you have a clicking or popping jaw, it’s a sign something isn’t right. The earlier an issue is addressed, the higher the chance for success. Don’t go through life suffering with TMD; there are answers. If you’d like help, please don’t hesitate to contact our team at 58 Dental. We’ve been helping patients with jaws issues for years and our experience has helped numerous Denver dental patients.