Clicking Jaw and TMJ

With TMJ, abnormal jaw sensations and sounds can occur with movement of the jaw. In essence, this can result from a few causes, but most commonly it is due to misalignment of the jaw itself. When both sides of the temporo-mandibular joint fail to have good symmetry, one side moves prior to the other. This causes a shift in the movement, and the joint may “pop” or “click”.

As much as this is a symptom of TMJ, it also suggests a cause of TMJ. The asymmetry causing the noise with jaw movement also is likely to be the cause of inflammation within the temporo-mandibular joint. The bone connection between the mandible and temporal portion of the skull forming the jaw joint is no longer able to smoothly glide in place. Instead, surfaces rub together that shouldn’t, or the joint dislocates during its movement. This causes the popping or clicking to occur.

Other causes of jaw popping or clicking can be due to deterioration of the joint as in arthritis. Sometimes it can be difficult to identify whether the arthritis is a primary problem or if TMJ is the main cause. Having other joints involved in the body can help make the distinction most of the time. Regardless, treatment is often the same.

Likewise, some individuals have misalignment of the joint but no evidence of TMJ disorders otherwise. The reason for their lack of TMJ symptoms is unclear. However, TMJ in this instance is only diagnosed if pain accompanies the jaw noises described. The goal is to direct realignment of the jaw as best as possible, while administering other TMJ treatments as indicated.

Other TMJ Symptoms: