If your jaw is popping when you open and close your mouth or while chewing your food, it could be a sign of TMJ disorder or damage to your temporomandibular joint. Here’s what you need to know about TMJ, when to see a dentist for your symptoms, and what you can do to find relief from jaw popping.
At the Center for Implant & Esthetic Dentistry, our prosthodontist Dr. Ramin Mahallati and our dental team offer treatment for TMJ and preventive and cosmetic dentistry services at our office in Beverly Hills, California.
What causes jaw popping?
TMJ disorder is one possible cause of your jaw popping, but several other factors can also cause similar symptoms. Jaw popping can also result from trauma (like a broken or dislocated jaw), arthritis, or damage to the joint, like a displaced disc or cartilage deterioration.
Orthodontic issues like a malocclusion (a problem with your bite) can also cause jaw popping. Some people with sleep apnea may also experience jaw popping as one of the symptoms. In rare cases, an infection in a salivary gland can also make your jaw pop.
You might also experience jaw popping and pain if you regularly chew gum or clench and grind your teeth while you sleep.
What to do if your jaw is popping
It’s normal for joints to pop once in a while, but if your jaw popping is consistent, you should schedule an appointment. Wear-and-tear on your joints is not only painful, but it can also lead to permanent damage. A comprehensive dental exam can tell whether your jaw popping is caused by TMJ or an orthodontic issue like crowding (when your teeth don’t have enough space).
If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea or have experienced trauma to your jaw in the past, let us know at your appointment. In general, you shouldn’t ignore dental symptoms like pain, tightness in your jaw, signs of infection, or an issue like jaw popping if they persist for more than a few days.
The treatment for jaw popping depends on the underlying cause. If you have a malocclusion or grind your teeth, Dr. Mahallati may recommend braces or a night guard to protect your teeth and jaw while you sleep.
TMJ disorder is typically treated with a combination of medication, physical therapy, and applying ice and heat to the jaw. If you have sleep apnea, an oral appliance can provide relief and is a less intrusive alternative to the CPAP machine.
For more information about TMJ and the causes of jaw popping, contact us today to schedule an appointment at our office in Beverly Hills.