Popping or clicking sensations in your jaw may not seem like a big deal, especially if there’s no pain or it doesn’t happen frequently. But those noises are often the first noticeable sign of an underlying jaw joint problem called temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder — and an indication that you need to be evaluated right away.

At Constant and Contro Orthodontics in Cupertino, California, our team gets to the root cause of your jaw noises, offering treatment to relieve TMJ disorder symptoms and prevent jaw joint damage. In this post, learn what causes jaw noises and how prompt medical care can help.

TMJ disorders

Your temporomandibular joint forms where your jaw bone (mandible) meets the temporal bone in the lower part of your skull. This joint contains a tiny disc that helps absorb shocks and prevent joint damage. The bones and disc align in a specific way to support normal, pain-free jaw movement.

A TMJ disorder happens when your joint structures don’t line up the way they’re supposed to, sometimes as a result of uneven growth in your jaw, but more often because of other underlying bite-related problems.

Missing teeth, crooked teeth, grinding habits (bruxism), and jaw injuries can all cause excess and uneven strain on your jaw joints, along with irritation and inflammation.

Eventually, extra joint strain pulls your joint out of alignment and causes painful inflammation in the joint and the muscles that control it. In addition to jaw pain, TMJ issues often cause more widespread symptoms, like chronic headaches, facial pain, earaches, or even pain in your neck. Without prompt care, symptoms tend to become a lot worse over time.

Understanding TMJ disorder treatment

Mild TMJ disorder symptoms often respond well to simple therapies, like eating softer foods until your inflammation subsides or taking over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Using ice and heat and gently stretching your jaw can relieve stiffness and improve circulation for better healing.

Moderate to severe cases of a TMJ disorder require more aggressive treatment. Many people find they’re helped by oral health treatments like wearing a night guard for nighttime teeth grinding, orthodontic care to correct bite abnormalities, or replacing missing teeth to rebalance their bite.

In some cases, we may recommend splinting to support your jaw and relieve strain or cortisone injections to directly target areas of inflammation. For severe alignment issues or problems with your joint structure, we may recommend jaw surgery.

Don’t ignore your jaw symptoms

TMJ disorders are a common cause of joint popping but not the only potential cause. Other problems like jaw or mouth injuries and even cancer can cause similar symptoms. Early evaluation ensures you receive the treatment you need to feel better and maintain your jaw health and function.

If you have any type of unusual or abnormal jaw symptoms, request an appointment online or over the phone with our team at Constant and Contro Orthodontics today.

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