Within the temporal bone in your jaw is the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. The joint is like a hinge on a sliding door. It’ connects one to joint to each side of the jaw, to your skull. The joint is located in the front of each ear. This allows you to move your jaw from side-to-side, up and down. However, when you have TMJ problems, you can may have difficulty yawning, talking, or moving your mouth. The causes of TMJ ranges from genetics, jaw injury, arthritis, or teeth grinding.
Symptoms and Signs of TMJ
TMJ typically causes severe pain and discomfort. The pain may be acute or chronic. It also may affect one side or your face or both sides. People who are at risk for developing this disorder include women and individuals 20 to 40 years old. Common systems often include:
- Tenderness or pain in your neck, shoulders, around the ear and joint area. You feel the pain and tenderness when you speak, chew, or open your mouth./li>
- Problems when you open your mouth wide/li>
- Jaws either lockup or get stuck. This causes your mouth to remain in a closed or open position/li>
- Jaw pop/li>
- Trouble chewing/li>
- Sudden uncomfortable bite. This occurs when your upper and lower teeth don’t property fit together./li>
- Swelling on the side of your face/li>
- Tired feeling in your face/li>
- Ringing in your ears. The medical term for this is tinnitus/li>
- Upper shoulder pain/li>
- Hearing problems
What Happens When Your Jaw Pops?
TMJ popping occurs when the jaw joint makes popping sounds when you chew food or open and close your mouth. The popping may not be painful. Instead of making a popping sound, it may make a clicking or grating sound when you open your mouth, close your mouth or chew.
The cause of your jaw popping is a displaced disc in your jaw. Remember the sliding hinge. Within the sliding hinge is made up of a ball and socket joint. When the ball and joint works properly, they don’t touch each other. The thin cartilage disc located between the socket and ball prevent them from touching. Once the disc is out of place, the muscles, which is held in place by the cartilage, slips. The slip occurs when the jaw moves and causes the popping sound. Sometimes it sounds like clicking.
Prior to the popping sound, the disc slides out of place. Later, it the disc slides back into place, the sound is made. Siding back in place typically happens when your mouth opens wider.
What if My Jaw Doesn’t Make a Popping Sound, but a Snapping Sound? Is it still TMJ?
Yes. A snapping sound is generally caused by the closeness between the boney structure, soft tissue or the cartilage, and jaw muscles. Together, they make a snapping sound. If you hear a clicking sound, it’s usually because the disc resting between the rounded area of the jawbone and socket are out of place.
What to Do about TMJ
If you’re lucky, TMJ symptoms go away without treatment. However, if symptoms get worse, you have some options. Home remedies include taking over-the-counter, or OTC, medication. You can also try applying an ice pack on both your temple and side of your face for approximately 10 minutes. If your doctor or dentist says it’s OK, try simple jaw stretches.
Other treatment options include:
- Physical therapy
- Occlusal appliances which includes mouth guards and oral splints
- Arthrocentesis. This is a minimally invasive procedure involving the insertion of tiny needles in the joint to remove debris, fluid and inflammatory byproducts.
- Corticosteroid injections
- TMJ arthroscopy
- Open-joint surgery
If you experience mouth locking and/or pain, you’ll need treatment. One of the best treatments of any TMJ popping is neuromuscular TMJ treatment. During the surgery, the muscles are attached to their original place. The goal of the surgery is to prevent to popping sound by correcting the problem area.
TMJ is a disorder with a treatment ranging from doing nothing at all to surgery. To understand more about TMJ, contact your dentist or physician. They will diagnosis and create a treatment place to eliminate the TMJ symptoms and signs. “