Ever wonder why a jaw joint pops? Some are so loud, you can hear it across the room. The pop usually occurs while eating more so than talking. The purpose of the article is to explain why jaw joints pop and what should, if anything, be done about it.
Why does my joint pop?
Put a finger in front of both ear canals and open and close your jaw. Feel both joints move? Those are your temporomandibular joints. If you feel a pop, even a slight one, something is out of line and you might have TMJ. The louder the pop, the more out of line the joint is.
The temporomandibular joint is different than any joint in the body. There is a floating cushion called the disc that sits between the joint and the skull. The disc is a round circle and looks like a Lifesaver and is designed to sit on the top of the joint. The purpose of the disc is to allow the joints to move and glide more efficiently. Unfortunately, the disc doesn't always stay where it was designed to.
A popping joint is the noise of the jaw joint slipping on and off and on a misplaced disc. On opening, the joint pops on to the disc, on closing, the disc pops back off the disc. It's a complex situation but one that is easy to understand. There are very many variables of the pop depending on the location of the misplaced disc.
If you have a popping joint or joint problem, try this simple experiment.
Look in a mirror and slowly begin to open your jaw. The jaw should open in a straight line. If it deviates to right or left, there is a joint or muscle problem on that side. Why is the jaw deviating to one side? If you were pushing a wheelchair down a smooth sidewalk and hit and obstruction on the right wheel, the wheelchair would turn to the right. It's the same in the joint; the displaced disc is in front of the joint not letting it slide down properly. This causes the jaw to move to the direction of the affected joint same as the wheel chair.
To treat or not treat
It's only common sense that the body should not make noise nor hurt. In the case of a popping joint, the key indicator for treatment would be pain. This pain can radiate all over the face and can mimic sinus headaches and migraines.
If the joint popping is new and especially if it hurts on biting down, you really need immediate attention. A qualified dentist, along with the help of other health care providers, such as chiropractor, acupuncture and massage therapists, can help get you back on track to normal.
If you would like to learn more about TMJ treatment and our dental office in Sacramento, give us a call at (916)442-8911 or click below to request an appointment. We are dedicated to your lifetime of dental health!