My Jaw Pops and Clicks When I Open my Mouth Without Pain. Should I Be Concerned?

added on: December 9, 2019
dentist examines x-ray

Popping and clicking in your jaw can be uncomfortable and feel a little strange. Even if you’re not in great pain, any abnormalities should always be evaluated by a professional like your Sheboygan holistic dentist, Dr. John Korolewski.

TMJ is a pretty popular term, and it’s used universally to describe issues or disorder of the jaw joints, chewing muscles, and your bite. TMD or TMJ dysfunction is a dental term that describes the collection of symptoms that can present themselves in various ways causing your bite to be off because things aren’t working together cohesively. TMJ actually stands for temporomandibular joints which are the joints connecting your jaw to your skull.

Do You Have Any of These Common Symptoms?

When your jaw joints are not functioning as designed, they can cause many problems, such as:

  • Clicking or popping noises
  • Pain when you open and close your mouth
  • Locking or limited movement when you open your mouth
  • Muscle spasms
  • Headaches
  • Pain behind your eyes
  • Dizziness
  • Earaches or ringing (tinnitus)
  • Clenching or grinding of your teeth
  • Worn, loose, or broken teeth
  • Neck, shoulder, and back pain
  • Numbness or tingling in your fingers

The first three symptoms on that list make sense. But it’s the rest of the problems on the list that can be deceiving to both patients and doctors. That’s why TMJ issues, or TMD, often goes misdiagnosed or completely undiagnosed. The primary problem can be in the joints themselves; the muscles of the face and jaw; the bite (how the teeth fit and work for chewing) or a combination of these. Because the symptoms masquerade as so many other conditions, many people travel from doctor to doctor in search of relief. It is estimated that as many as 10-15% of Americans suffer from one or more of these symptoms. Many never think to seek a dentist trained in TMD for help.

Should I Talk to Dr. John About TMD?

If you’re unsure if your symptoms are related to your TMJ, you should see a trained professional like Dr. John. He’s completed extensive training in TMJ diagnosis and treatment, including completing six weeks of Curriculum at The Pankey Institute from 2002-2006 and a thirty-day Residency at the Texas Center for Occlusal Studies during 2014-2016. Dr. John is currently an Adjunct Faculty member of The Stewart Center for Minimally Invasive Dental Medicine (formerly The Texas Center for Occlusal Studies), supporting dentists who are learning how to resolve their patients’ TMJ related problems. Dr. John treats TMJ patients referred from local physicians, chiropractors, physical therapists, general dentists, and dental specialists.

When it comes to helping you with a diagnosis, Dr. John will:

  • Thoroughly address your health history
  • Examine your jaw joint and chewing muscles
  • Evaluate any noises or popping coming from your jaw joint
  • Check your teeth and bite for wear and proper alignment
  • Make a 3D CBCT image of your jaw joints and supporting structures

Treatment will vary from patient to patient because each case is very different. It can involve several different phases. The first phase is to relieve the muscle spasm and pain and stabilize the jaw joint in the jaw socket. Often a temporary device is known as a “bite splint” is worn over the teeth until the muscles relax and the pain is relieved. Once your jaw joint is stabilized, the second phase is to evaluate your bite for corrective options, so you are not dependent on the “bite splint” for comfort and stability. Permanent correction involves refitting your bite and teeth with minimally invasive bonding materials – in some cases, building crowns on the teeth and/or orthodontics are needed. Rarely, if the jaw joint itself is damaged, it may require surgical care. Ultimately, Dr. John can stabilize your bite so that the teeth, muscles, and joints all work together naturally for optimal long-term health and comfort.

If you or someone in your family has a jaw that pops, locks or any of the other issues we discussed here today, then it might be time for you to call our holistic dental office in Sheboygan. Dr. John has the tools, technology, and training to help you feel better and restore your bite.