What Can Be Done About My Popping Jaw?

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What Can Be Done About My Popping Jaw?

Jaw popping or clicking is a common symptom associated with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ or TMD), a chronic medical problem that affects your jaw joints. About 12 million Americans suffer from TMJ, including people with degenerative conditions, jaw misalignment, and clenching or grinding habits (bruxism).

At Tomase Dental Care in Toledo, Ohio, Timothy Tomase, DDS, offers patient-centered care for TMJ, with treatments aimed at relieving current symptoms while preventing problems in the future. If you have popping or clicking sensations in your jaws, here’s what you need to know about TMJ and its treatment.

TMJ and jaw popping

TMJ typically happens when one of both jaw joints don’t line up properly. That misalignment puts extra strain on your jaw joints and your facial muscles. Over time, the joint becomes inflamed, impairing its natural “hinge” function. 

The result: When you chew, yawn, or open and close your mouth, you hear (and sometimes feel) a popping or clicking sensation. In severe cases, your jaw may temporarily become “stuck” in an open position. 

Alignment issues aren’t the only cause of TMJ and jaw-popping symptoms. Arthritis, pain disorders, missing teeth, and facial trauma are other possible causes. 

Prior to recommending treatment, Dr. Tomase performs a thorough exam, along with an evaluation of your symptoms. Diagnostic imaging helps him see your jaw joints so he can look for signs of damage.

Treatment for TMJ

The goal of TMJ is to realign your jaw joints to improve jaw function and relieve painful inflammation. The specific approach depends on what’s causing the misalignment in the first place.

For patients with missing or crooked teeth, dental implants, dentures, bridges, or orthodontic treatment can help. If you have a grinding problem, Dr. Tomase typically recommends a night guard, a special device that protects your teeth and reduces jaw strain while you sleep.

To speed healing and decrease inflammation around your joint, Dr. Tomase often suggests lifestyle changes like:

  • Avoiding chewing gum
  • Avoiding chewy, sticky candies or treats
  • A diet of soft foods
  • Sleeping on your back
  • Stress relief and jaw relaxation exercises

While these simple strategies can’t “cure” TMJ, they can provide your jaw joints with the rest they need to help reduce irritation in the joint and the tissues that surround and support it.

Prevent serious jaw problems

Without proper medical treatment, TMJ can lead to permanent jaw joint damage and chronic pain. To learn how Dr. Tomase and his team can help protect your jaws and relieve your TMJ symptoms, call 419-670-6537 or book an appointment online at Tomase Dental Care today.