Is Jaw Clicking Normal? Understanding TMJ Disorder Symptoms

Tmj Treatment Near Me

When you notice jaw popping or clicking, it can take you by surprise. It’s natural to think something is seriously wrong with your jaw and that you need to seek care immediately. While it should still be evaluated by our Ann Arbor, MI, dentists, this occurrence is one of the more common TMJ disorder symptoms.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is TMJ Disorder?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a complex joint that connects your jawbone to your skull, allowing you to open and close your mouth, chew, and speak. You have two of these joints, one on each side of the skull. TMJ disorder, also known as TMD, refers to a group of conditions that affect the proper functioning of this joint and the surrounding muscles.

It’s estimated that millions of people worldwide experience TMJ disorder, with symptoms ranging from mild discomfort to severe pain and limited jaw movement. TMJ disorder can be caused by various factors, including injury to the jaw joint, arthritis, teeth grinding (bruxism), stress-induced jaw clenching, or structural issues with the joint itself.

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While occasional jaw clicking or popping may not necessarily indicate a problem, persistent or worsening symptoms such as jaw pain, stiffness, or difficulty chewing should prompt further evaluation by our team of dentists.

TMJ Disorder Symptoms

Though the severity can vary, TMJ disorder can manifest in a variety of ways, with jaw clicking, popping, or grating being fairly common. Individuals with TMJ disorder may find that they have discomfort on one or both sides of their face.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Jaw tenderness, especially around the temporomandibular joint
  • Earaches
  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Facial discomfort
  • A sensation of the jaw locking or getting stuck in an open or closed position

It’s important to note that symptoms of TMJ disorder can be different for every person in terms of intensity and frequency and may worsen over time if left untreated. Therefore, it’s essential to recognize these symptoms and give our Ann Arbor dental office a call today so we can determine the appropriate treatment.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosing TMJ disorder typically involves a combination of physical examination, medical history review, and possibly imaging tests such as X-rays or other related scans to assess the condition of the joint(s) and surrounding structures. Once diagnosed, treatment options for TMJ disorder aim to alleviate symptoms and improve jaw function.

Conservative treatments are always the first resort as they don’t involve surgery or specialized prescriptions. These may include lifestyle modifications such as avoiding hard or chewy foods, practicing stress management techniques to reduce jaw clenching, applying moist heat or cold packs to the jaw, and performing gentle at-home jaw exercises to strengthen muscles and improve flexibility. Over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications may also provide temporary relief.

In more severe cases or when conservative measures fail to achieve pain reduction, our dentists may recommend other interventions such as prescription medications, dental procedures to correct misalignment or bite issues, oral splints or mouthguards to ease teeth grinding, physical therapy, or in rare instances, surgery to repair or replace damaged joint structures.

Come In for a TMJ Evaluation

Do you need help with persistent clicking followed by nagging jaw pain? Our TMJ dentists in Ann Arbor, MI, can take a look and create a custom treatment plan. Call Excel Dental today at (734) 929-9999 to request an appointment.