Jaw locking, popping, clicking, and cracking explained!
Have you ever heard your jaw cracking or popping while you are talking? Does it sometimes feel like your jaw is locking into place when you yawn, chew or laugh? Do your facial muscles ache or throb? If any of this sounds familiar, you may have a disorder of the temporomandibular joint, more commonly called TMJ.
What is TMJ?
The TM joint acts like a hinge to connect your lower jaw to the temporal bone of your skull. The joint is located directly in front of your ears, and if you place your finger on the joint while you open and close it, you can feel it moving.
There are also facial muscles to help support and stabilize your jaw while chewing,laughing, talking or making other facial expressions. When either TM joint is injured or moved out of its natural alignment, it sets off a ripple of pain and other related symptoms to let you know something is wrong.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms vary from person-to-person, but common TMJ symptoms usually include:
- Jaw locking, popping or cracking
- Aching, throbbing jaw
- Facial muscle spasms
- Severe, chronic headaches
- Ringing or hissing in the ears
- Stiff, aching neck and shoulders
- Numbness or tingling in the arm and fingers
TMJ can be treated
TMJ treatment is available, but to ensure you receive the best possible care, it is recommended that you are examined by a neuromuscular dentist who is an expert in the diagnosis and management of TM joint disorders. In minor cases of TMJ, the only treatment prescribed might be a change in diet, accompanied by the utilization of stress management and relaxation techniques.
When the disorder is caused by an injury or jaw misalignment, however, you might require some corrective dentistry, oral appliance or physical therapy to help realign your bite or move your jaw back into its natural alignment.