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Why Is Your Jaw Popping While Chewing Food?

Posted: Dec, 30, 2023

Have you ever wondered why you experience that jaw-popping while enjoying your favorite chewy snacks? The reason is trauma to the temporomandibular joint, commonly known as TMJ; the hinge connects the lower jaw to the skull and gives it mobility. Due to factors like excessive teeth clenching /grinding or blow to the face, your jaw may start popping or clicking, indicating TMJ disorder. Let's take a deeper look at the causes and treatment options. 

Everyday Habits Contributing To Jaw Popping

If you chew gum regularly, bite fingernails, grind teeth, or clench your jaw involuntarily during moments of stress, they might be the potential triggers. You might be unknowingly subjecting your jaw to unwarranted force, causing wear and tear that shows up as clicking sounds. 

While occasional jaw popping is not a cause for concern, persistently having this issue may indicate a need for medical attention.

Underlying Causes

Jaw popping may be a sign of rising Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD). There are several underlying conditions that can contribute to this.

  1. Arthritis

Both types - rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) can damage cartilage in the temporomandibular joint, resulting in improper jaw movements. You may need long-term medical treatment for arthritis, which would, in turn, help with easing jaw movement. 

  1. Jaw Injuries

A broken or dislocated jaw by accidents or injuries can lead to jaw dislocation accompanied by swelling, bleeding, numbness, or even bruising. In such a case scenario, treatment is crucial for proper healing.

  1. Malocclusion of Teeth

Misaligned teeth or malocclusion can cause the jaw to click or pop sounds, along with other symptoms like: 

  1. A deviated facial appearance
  2. Discomfort while chewing
  3. Speech problems

The good news is braces are a common and effective treatment for malocclusion.

  1. Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS)

Chronic pain in the jaw, associated with trigger points causing discomfort and limited range of motion, characterizes MPS. Treatment may involve addressing trigger points through various methods, such as physical therapy, massage, and stress management techniques.

  1. Sleep Apnea

All kinds of sleep apnea, namely obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA), can be the reason why your jaw pains so much. OSA is involuntary breathing interruptions during sleep, while CSA is improper signaling from the brain to your muscles. Dentists now have CPAP machines to help you deal with this.

  1. Infection

Salivary gland infections can cause TMJ clicks along with symptoms like dry mouth, face pain, and swelling. Immediate treatment is necessary via antibiotics and other interventions to address the infection and associated symptoms.

  1. Tumor

Tumors can impact the jaw and show up with signs like sores, loose teeth, and lumps in the mouth or neck. Prompt medical attention is crucial for diagnosis and developing an appropriate treatment plan.

Treatment Options 

If you are experiencing issues with your lower jaw, seek professional help. Dr. Ram Nallapaneni, DDS, from the University of Illinois, Chicago, a member of the American Dental Association (ADA), can help you diagnose the issue and recommend the route best for you. Some of the common treatments are given below: 

1. Trigger Point Injections

Numbing agents are introduced via injection into facial muscles to improve circulation, release tension, and alleviate tenderness. The aim of the dental care expert is to provide relief from the discomfort associated with trigger points in the jaw area.

2. Radio Wave Therapy

Certain tools send radio waves through the TMJ (temporomandibular joints), promoting increased blood flow and resulting in reduced pain. This non-invasive approach is usually a part of a comprehensive treatment plan for addressing jaw popping.

Closing Note 

It is crucial to have in-depth knowledge about the root causes of jaw popping to find a solution. Whether it involves adjusting everyday habits or addressing underlying conditions, take the right measures for relief. If you are struggling and can't find a way out, consult our specialists at Riverside Family Dental for the best care solutions. Give us a call at (586) 468-0983 to schedule an appointment.

Dr Nallapaneni

Dr. Nallapaneni

Dr. Nallapaneni, a Clinton Township dentist, prioritizes skilled, compassionate care. With a DDS from the University of Illinois at Chicago, he's committed to ongoing education, staying updated with advancements in dentistry for personalized patient treatment. He is actively involved with the Macomb Dental Society, Michigan Dental Association, Academy of General Dentistry, and American Dental Association.

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