TMJ Clicking - Why Does My Jaw Make A Clicking Noise
TMJ clicking is among the most frequent warning signs of TMJ syndrome and happens when the disc in the jaw joint is misaligned. This condition doesn’t cause pain for most people and it is typically not treated by doctors. However, if you are hear or feel TMJ “clicking, it is important that you consult with a TMJ dentist to find out if it needs to be treated. Having a TMJ click doesn’t necessarily mean you have a TMJ disorder, but it might be the first sign, it is worth your time to have it professionally diagnosed by a TMJ dentist.
Causes Of Clicking
A popping noise or “click” is made when the Jaw joint shifts out of position and then “pops” back in once you chew or speak (the jaw joint is a “ball and socket” joint). Another cause may be due to an abnormality in the shape of a disc in the joint area that causes TMJ clicking. While another cause may be shortened jaw muscles that spasm which in turn increases the pressure on the jaw joint resulting in a “pop” or “click”. Or the TMJ clicking might be due to an uneven or improper bite, or trauma that could have caused a tear to the joint tissue.
Why treat it?
If your jaw clicking is not treated, the damage to the joint can and will create problems later on like TMJ facial pain and headaches, which can be excruciating to have and expensive to fix. A severe case could lead to your jaw locking open it becomes difficult or even impossible at times to close the mouth once opened. Some patients with these problems will need TMJ orthodontics to move the jaw joint into a place which can then provide more support for the damaged disc.
Diagnosis Of Clicking
For the most part, TMJ diagnosis is determined by its symptoms which consist of TMJ clicking and/or popping, facial pain, numbness, facial, neck and jaw spasms and wearing down of teeth. Before beginning any treatment the degree of injury done to the joint is measured by a variety of tests including:
- Computed Tomography (CT) Scan which provides the details of the bone structure but provides no information on the soft tissue.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) delivers details of soft tissue, discs and muscles.
- Tomography is used most widely and is a kind of x-ray that shows cross- sections on the jaw region.
Treatment for Clicking
Once diagnosed, a treatment will be chosen by the TMJ Dentist, this depends on the extent of damage already done and the specifics of any/all defects in the mouth, bite and TMJ, jaw joint.
- A mouth guard specifically designed for TMJ can be used to relax the jaw muscles which reduce the jaw clicking frequency. Mouth guards also help to reduce the volume of the clicking.
- Eliminating the habit through physical therapy for the masticatory muscles is another approach.
- Mandibular repositioning devices are also used for a short time to prevent any other changes that would worsen the condition.
- A splint or night guard is also used for treating TMJ problems.
Stress management may help in resolving the problem if stress is a source of the TMJ problem. A clicking jaw is not only uncomfortable, but it is also damaging to the joint in the long run. Hence getting it checked is very important even if it doesn’t cause any pain.