Have you noticed a clicking noise when you open and close your mouth to eat, talk, yawn and more? Then you may have a problem with your jaw joint or the TMJ. The clicking noise can appear with other symptoms such as pain, headaches and earache. The loud noise and/or discomfort is not something you have to live with. At Painfree Dentistry, we can help.
What Causes the Clicking Sound?
In the jaw, there is a disc that separates the lower jaw (mandible bone) and the temporal bone. The temporal bone is where the jaw connects to the skull. Sometimes the disc that separates the two can be displaced. When it tries to return to the normal position, that is when the clicking noise occurs. This can be caused by several things, but when this does happen, it does mean there is a problem.
What Causes the Disc Displacement?
The disc is secured to the jaw joint by a ligament; sometimes, the ligament can be stretched, so it no longer supports the disc. This can be caused by clenching and grinding of the teeth, trauma to the mouth and extended opening of the mouth. The disc can also become dislodged if the muscle attached to the disc goes into a spasm. The spasm can cause the disc to move to the wrong position. When the disc moves back to where it should be, the click occurs. If the clicking happens when you open and close your mouth, it is called a reciprocal click. If the disc is not treated, it will get worse and eventually lead to jaw locking. When the jaw locks, you will not be able to open your mouth because the disc will not move back into the correct position. Jaw lock is serious and should be treated immediately. Certain medical conditions such as arthritis can cause problems with the disc.
Symptoms That Can Occur with a Clicking Jaw
When patients have a problem with the jaw, it may not just be the clicking sound that they experience. There are other symptoms which include:
- Neck pain
- Teeth grinding
- Jaw clenching
- Ear pain
- Ringing in ears
Treatment for Jaw Joint Clicking
The treatment for this condition requires a specialist treatment. Your jaw will need to be assessed, and then the cause can be identified, and the treatment can begin. There are a variety of treatment options available for jaw joint clicking, and these include:
Medication – There are a range of medications that can be used for treatment. These can include: over the counter medications such as Ibuprofen, prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants with pain relief properties and anti-convulsant medications.
Oral Appliances – These appliances are made from hard acrylic and are removable. The appliance will cover the upper or lower teeth. This stops you from grinding and clenching your teeth which helps relieve added pressure on the jaw.
Physiotherapy and Massage Therapy – This therapy helps improve muscle function and joint range.
Surgery – Surgery is not used often, but when it is performed, the joint will be frozen and then flushed with a sterile solution. After this procedure, a physiotherapist will help with jaw movement.
At Painfree Dentistry, we can help treat jaw joint issues.