Why Does My Jaw Pop When I Chew?
Why Does My Jaw Pop When I Chew?
The question “why does my jaw pop when I chew” is a question that doesn’t have one right answer. In fact, the reason why your jaw randomly pops is still not completely clear, but there are a few reasons for it. The occurrence of the pop has been linked to symptomatic trauma that is caused to the jaw or the joints in it.
Due to the trauma, many people whose jaw pops at times experience pain in the jaw, headaches, and possibly earaches. These symptoms are referred to as temporomandibular disorders (TMD).
What is TMD?
In order to understand TMD, you need to first know how the jaw works. On each side of the jaw, joints are attached to a hinge system. When you chew, the system opens and closes. TMD occurs when there is a dysfunction in the muscles in the jaw, specifically those that aid in the jaw moving up and down. The popping sound you hear is a sign that there is an issue within these muscles of the jaw.
In adults, TMD is fairly common. The best way to determine if an individual has TMD is by asking your Greeley dentist for an x-ray of your jaw. Images of the joint allow your dentist to diagnose TMD.
Reasons That Cause TMD
TMD is caused by stress in the joints of the jaw. Popping starts to occur due to physical deformity which can be caused by the following:
- Disk erosion
- Damage to the cartilage
- Damage to the joints causes by physical trauma
The reasons that lead to TMD are as follows:
We asked our friend, Dr. Ben Kacos, a dentist in Shreveport, LA, about why your jaw might pop while you chew. He said that bruxism, which is also known as teeth grinding is one of the most common reasons to TMD. People usually clench and grind their teeth when they are under stress. Some do it while they sleep unconsciously. Teeth start to wear and tear as you grind them. Not just that but more stress is put on the joints of the jaw as the muscles around them are tightened. Dr. Kacos says the more a person grinds their teeth, the more stress that is put on these joints.
There is a simple solution to teeth grinding. A dentist will recommend you wear a mouth guard that protects your teeth and prevents them from grinding together. They may also ask you to manage your stress, so you stop grinding altogether.
With bite misalignment, there is usually more stress on one side of the jaw than the other. This causes the popping sound to occur on one side and not the other. This type of misalignment can also result in teeth grinding which furthers the chances of TMD.
The treatment for misalignment depends solely on how severe and where it occurs. Most dentists recommend Invisalign to fix the misalignment. If there are teeth missing or broken then reshaping and reconstruction are a better option.
Arthritis in the Temporomandibular Joint
Not many people are aware, but you can get arthritis in the joints of your jaw. The effect is similar to arthritis in other parts of your body such as the elbow which also pops with arthritis. When your dentist determines the cause of TMD linked to arthritis, they usually recommend physical therapy combined with ultrasound that helps strengthen the muscles in the jaw.
If you are experiencing a popping sensation in your jaw, we recommend you go see a dentist right away. For those in Colorado, you can visit a TMJ expert in Greeley, CO, which has a team that is familiar with treating patients with teeth grinding, arthritis in the jaw joints and bite misalignment.