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Jaw Clicking

Jaw Clicking

Clicking of the jaw may occur due to many reasons, and depending on the severity, the condition could be painful to the afflicted person. Given below are the causes and treatment options for dealing with this condition.
Dr. Sumaiya Khan
Jaw clicking is a relatively rare condition where there are popping sounds heard when a person opens and closes his or her jaw. This clicking sound may be asymptomatic or it may also be accompanied by pain when opening and closing the mouth. However, even if this condition does not pain it can prove to be very embarrassing for the person. We shall go through the probable causes of this condition in the following paragraphs.
Bruxism
Bruxism is a condition where a person has the habit of grinding his upper and lower teeth at night. When this occurs even during the day, then it is known as bruxomania. Teeth grinding and jaw clenching can cause jaw popping for two reasons. Firstly, the jaw muscles become weak or get pulled, due to which they may cause sounds. Continuous grinding of teeth can also lead to attrition of the surfaces of the teeth, which can lead to a change in the plane of occlusion (the plane at which the upper and lower teeth meet). This change in the plane of occlusion can lead to pain while opening and closing of the jaw. This pain can be accompanied by jaw clicking.
Eating Hard Food
Frequently eating tough food, like food that is high in fiber and requires a lot of chewing can lead to jaw clicking problems. This is also especially seen in people who chew a lot of gum. This kind of repeated action leads to stretching or slowly injuring the jaw muscles, which can lead to a clicking sound when chewing.
Traumatic Injury
Any kind of an impact blow near the side of the face can lead to trauma to the articulating part of the jaw joint. Sometimes, even a traumatic fall or an impact on the face can damage mandibular muscles. This could lead to mild dislocation of the jaw, which often causes popping and clicking sounds, with or without pain while opening and closing the jaw.
Other Causes
These sounds may also occur as a result of injury to the muscles or the jaw joint when sleeping. This may occur due to sleeping on one side which may lead to stretching of muscles and thus, clicking of the jaw. If there is a disease that affects this joint, as is seen in certain temporomandibular joint disorders, like osteoarthritis of the jaw, then the degeneration could lead to clicking, popping, and other such scraping sounds.
Treatment
  • The treatment will depend on the cause behind it. If the clicking is due to teeth grinding, then the person will need to get proper teeth grinding treatment. In such cases, the dentist will check the oral cavity to see if the teeth have been attrited to such an extent that there has been a change in the plane of occlusion. If that is the case, then the dentist will try to re-establish the plane of occlusion by restoring the occlusal surface of the teeth affected. The dentist may also fabricate a mouth guard for grinding teeth.
  • If the person has a joint disorder, then he will have to go in for temporomandibular joint disorder treatment.
  • If a person has had a traumatic injury to any part of the jaw, then it is important for the person to go in for treatment accordingly.
  • It is best to avoid chewing gum or eating hard foods that require a lot of chewing. Instead trying out certain exercises may help, as this helps to being back the normal tone of the muscles.
Sometimes, it has been seen that if the jaw clicking is chronic in nature and is asymptomatic, then certain tests are done to check for abnormalities in the jaw structure. However, if the findings are negative, it is advised to not treat the symptoms, as long as it is not the chief complaint of the patient.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.