TMJ Jaw Clicking: Why Does My Jaw Hurt, Click, Or Pop?

Why Does My Jaw Hurt, Click, Or Pop?

Do you have jaw clicking or popping when you open and close your month? Is it painful to chew? Do you suffer from headaches or pain in your jaw, neck, or ear?

Then you may have problems with your temporomandibular joint (TMJ)

What is the TMJ? Your temporomandibular joint connects your skull and jaw together on each side of your face to help it move smoothly when you eat, talk, sing, etc.

If the TMJ becomes dysfunctional or damaged (TMD) it can cause the following TMJ symptoms:

  • Jaw and facial pain
  • Headaches
  • Ear Pain
  • Painful clicking when you chew
  • Difficulty closing or opening your month
  • Dizziness
  • Hearing problems

Most commonly, people with TMJ dysfunction will experience pain and clicking in the jaw. However, the TMJ can be involved with other parts of the body as well. Many of your neck muscles attach near the jaw and influence it’s function. Therefore, it is very common for people to experience concurrent jaw and neck symptoms. Additionally, the nerves that supply your TMJ also supply sensation to different parts of your head and face. Dysfunction in the jaw can also be involved with different types of headaches. 

Thus, it is very important to get to the bottom of TMJ pain!

What Causes TMJ Disorder?

It can be caused by a combination of:

  • Trauma or impact to your jaw
  • TMJ Arthritis
  • Teeth misalignment
  • Injury to the disc (piece of tissue that sits between the joint surfaces)
  • Bad posture habits
  • Excessive gum chewing

Symptoms of TMJ disorder courtesy of Peach Physiotherapy & Wellness Centre (Read the caption)

How Do I Treat TMJ Disorder?

It is important to see a physiotherapist if you suspect you have TMJ disorder. They will help determine the cause of your TMJ pain and develop a customized treatment program that focuses on relaxing, stretching and releasing tight muscles around the joint.

A Physiotherapy protocol can include:

 – Education on the type of jaw disorder you have and a list of do’s and dont’s while rehabbing it.

 – Exercises that strengthen the muscles around the TMJ and improve range of motion

 – Exercises aimed at improving neck and mid-back posture and mobility. Since the jaw is very connected with these areas, it is important to address them

– Manual therapy to improve jaw mechanics and temporomandibular muscle tightness. Addressing the neck and mid-back with hands on therapy is also very helpful!

7 Things You Can Do At Home To Ease Jaw Pain

When recovering from jaw pain, it can be difficult to avoid the activities that aggravate your pain. It is the most commonly used joint in the body after all! There are a few small modifications you can make to ease jaw pain, however:

1. Cut up your food into smaller pieces so you don’t have to take as big of bites when eating. This will reduce strain on the jaw.

2. Avoid difficult to chew foods like tough meat, raw veggies, and candies.

3. Breathe through your nose instead of your month. Breathing through your mouth can increase tension in particular jaw muscles. This tension can contribute to temporomandibular disorder.

4. Try your best to limit large jaw movements like singing or yawning.

5. Temporarily avoid chewing gum. If that may be a problem for your breath use fresh mints or breath strips instead!

6. Reduce prolonged sitting times. This will help improve your neck function.

7. Additionally, you can consult with your local dentist. They may prescribe you with a night guard to help reduce tension in the jaw.

If your TMJ is bothering you, schedule an appointment with one of our PhysioTherapists near you. Just click the “search for a clinic” button on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

If left untreated it can lead to chronic pain or clicking. Addressing a TMJ issue sooner rather than later increases your chances of successful recovery.

Chewing gum can irritate your jaw when you have temporomandibular disorder. Therefore, it can be helpful to temporarily reduce gum chewing in the early phases of recovery.

It’s not life-threatening but can significantly affect your quality of life if left untreated.

About Taylor Sipos

Taylor is a physiotherapist at The Orthopaedic Therapy Clinic located in Toronto, Ontario. He treats patients with various musculoskeletal conditions using patient education, exercise therapy, manual therapy and acupuncture. His treatment philosophy involves giving his patient’s the means to self-manage their injuries. He does this through reassurance, education and health promotion. Taylor uses the same principles as a patient educator at Pain Hero. He aims to provide you with high-quality, easy to understand information to teach you about your condition and how to improve it.

Medical Disclaimer:

The information presented in this blog post is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, treatment or a diagnosis, consult with a medical professional such as one suggested on this website. The Clinic Accelerator Inc. and the author of this page are not liable for the associated risks of using or acting upon the information contained in this article.

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