Patient Guidelines During COVID-19

My Jaw Pops: Do I Have TMJ Dysfunction?

My Jaw Pops: Do I Have TMJ Dysfunction?

Most everyone’s jaw makes a cracking or popping sound once in a while. If such a sound has become frequent or you’ve noticed additional symptoms, you may be dealing with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction. 

Our expert team at CaliDental in San Luis Obispo, Lompoc, Bakersfield, and Santa Maria, California, diagnoses and treats painful TMJ issues in patients of all ages.

Here’s a closer look at jaw popping and TMJ dysfunction, including ways we can help.

TMJ dysfunction basics 

You couldn’t open your mouth, talk, or chew normally without your temporomandibular joints. The hinge-like joints on each side of your head connect your lower jaw to your skull and allow normal movement. 

When you develop TMJ dysfunction, meaning the joints don’t work properly, you can experience a range of symptoms — including jaw popping. Popping, crunching, or cracking sounds in your jaw could mean the bones aren’t quite aligned.

TMJ dysfunction can also cause other symptoms, such as:

If untreated, your symptoms may gradually worsen over time, increasing in type, frequency, and intensity.

Causes of TMJ dysfunction

The precise causes of TMJ problems aren’t fully understood, but several factors can increase your risk and worsen jaw popping, stiffness, and pain. 

Risk factors for TMJ dysfunction include:

Getting too little sleep and experiencing high levels of emotional stress may also contribute to TMJ pain and popping.

What to do about TMJ symptoms

If you’re experiencing ongoing jaw popping or other TMJ dysfunction symptoms, we can help, starting with a comprehensive exam. We may also order X-rays to get a closer look at your jaw bones. 

If it turns out you’re dealing with a TMJ disorder, we recommend various treatments that may include:

You may also benefit from over-the-counter pain relievers and avoiding particularly tough or chewy foods during occasional flare-ups. 

We reserve TMJ surgery for severe cases that don’t respond to milder treatments. These procedures correct structural problems and remove problematic scar tissue; some are more invasive than others.

To learn more about TMJ dysfunction or get the care you need, call the CaliDental office nearest you or email us through our website today.

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