If your jaw has suddenly started to click or pop while you eat or yawn – aside from being
annoying – it might be causing you to worry. The clicking may be accompanied by pain and
you might feel that you can’t open your jaw fully, which can be pretty scary. But don’t worry,
a clicking or popping jaw is actually quite common – which isn’t surprising when you think
just how much work the jaw does. Did you know for example that in the UK, jaw joint
problems affect approximately 1 out of 6 people?
What you need to know about your jaw joint
In medical terms, the jaw joint is commonly known as the temporomandibular joint – often
shortened to TMJ. These joints are located on either side of your face and connect your
lower jaw to your skull. Try placing your fingers just in front of your ears and open your
mouth, can you feel the joints? These allow you to move your jaw from side to side, talk,
yawn, eat and drink. Any problems that affect the TMJ from working properly are referred to
as a TMJ disorder and can cause limited movement and pain in the surrounding muscles.
What causes TMJ disorder?
There are a few reasons why your jaw joint might be giving you grief and don’t worry, it’s not
from talking too much…
Your TMJ problem could be caused by:
- Overuse of the jaw joint or muscles, often down to subconsciously clenching and
- grinding the teeth during your sleep (which is the most common reason)
- Wear and tear of the joint, sometimes due to osteoarthritis which is more common
- among older patients
- Other types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis which affects a number of joints
- throughout the body including the TMJ.
- Injury or trauma to the TMJ
What can I do?
The good news is that TMJ disorders are rarely serious and symptoms often improve with
just a few simple treatments. How we treat your jaw joint issue really depends on what’s
causing the problem to begin with, but there are a few treatments typically recommended
such as resting your jaw joint.
Help your TMJ heal by:
- sticking to a soft food diet for a few days and not chewing gum.
- trying not to open your mouth too wide when yawning
- stopping any habits such as clenching your jaw or biting your nails
- massaging the muscles surrounding your jaw
- placing a heat pad wrapped in a towel against the sore area
Try to stop the pain and muscle spasms by applying warmth to the jaw or taking painkillers
such as ibuprofen, paracetamol or codeine. If these aren’t helping, you could try taking a
small dose of muscle relaxants to give added pain relief, but speak to your dentist first.
Wearing a custom-made bite guard or splint is sometimes advised by dentists because these
cover the teeth and stop them from coming into contact with each other. They’re usually
worn at night time and help reduce the pressure that’s placed on your teeth while clenching
If you’re struggling with a clicking or painful jaw, come and visit our team at 44 Dental Care.
We’ll arrange a consultation to discuss your symptoms and recommend the best course of
action to help get you out of discomfort.
Call us today on 0116 2251 9647.