A jaw clicks or crack, as some people describe it, can be a painful and annoying sensation. It is believed to be caused by a malfunction in the temporomandibular joints (TMJ).
With jaw cracking, there is usually a clicking sound that comes from the jaw, which occurs at the same time as the pain. The TMJ joints connect the jaw to the skull and include a joint on each side. The action of the hinge on the joint allows us to speak, chew and yawn.
It is important to note that not all jaw creaking is due to a problem with the temporomandibular joints.
There are cases where people hear a cracking noise and feel a strange sensation when they extend their jaw too far. For example, when you open your mouth too wide while yawning, it may thunder. If you click your jaw and feel no pain, it often means you have no reason to worry.
While doctors don't fully understand jaw clenching, here we share what is known about its causes, symptoms, and treatment.
What are the causes of cracking jaw?
This condition sounds strange to many people. Those who have never experienced it wonder what causes the jaw to snap.
There are several causes, including those listed below:
When people frequently chew gum, bite their nails, grind their teeth, clench their jaw, stick their jaw out, or bite their lip or cheek, it can lead to wear and tear on the joints. This wear causes erosion.
This common condition can damage the cartilage of the temporomandibular joint. For example, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are known to affect the jaw. When there is a loss of cartilage, the movements of the jaw do not have good absorption in the joint cavity.
Broken or dislocated jaw
A serious injury can break or dislocate the jaw. Basically, the jaw joint goes haywire. A physical assault, a car accident, a fall, sports injuries, or industrial accidents can cause a dislocated or broken jaw. This type of injury requires prompt and proper treatment.
Malocclusion of teeth
It is the same as crossbite, overbite, underbite, open bite, or clenched teeth. Poor occlusion of the teeth leads to misalignment, which can change a person's facial appearance, cause biting of the inner cheeks or tongue, cause discomfort when chewing, and cause speech problems.
Myofascial pain syndrome (MDS)
SDM is a chronic pain in the musculoskeletal system. When it's on the jaw, it makes the jaw pop or click. People with MDS have trigger points that are sensitive.
These trigger points are particularly painful when pressure is applied to them. If someone has myofascial pain syndrome, they may experience worse pain when stretching the muscle, a smaller range of motion in the affected area, as well as difficulty sleeping.
Both obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (ACS) can cause jaw clenching. People with OSA often experience headaches, depression, and swelling of the legs. Those who have ACS tend to have difficulty swallowing; they may experience a change in speech patterns and generally feel weak.
An infection in the salivary gland can cause the jaw to pop. The infection usually occurs within the glands of the cheek, the glands under the jaw, or the glands located under the tongue. Some people with this type of infection cannot open their mouth fully, causing the jaw to click.
The jaw can be affected by a tumor that develops on the lips, tongue, cheeks, gums, floor of the mouth, or hard or soft palate. When the tumor interferes with the movement of the jaw, it is when there is a sensation of popping.
Symptoms That May Accompany Cracking Jaw
There are cases where a popping jaw may be the only symptom, but in other cases, there are various symptoms that can affect the jaw.
The following list covers the most common symptoms of a cracking jaw.
· Pain and discomfort
· Tenderness in the jaw or face
· Difficulty opening your mouth
· Difficulty eating
· Neck Pain
· A toothache
· Facial swelling
How to treat jaw popping?
If you or someone you know wants to know how to stop jaw cracking, you need to make a proper diagnosis first, then a doctor can suggest the best approach to solve the problem.
Here we review the different treatment options for this jaw problem that doctors recommend depending on the cause. These include home remedies and medical treatments.
Medications: Some people are prescribed anti-inflammatory medications that can help relieve swelling and pain in the jaw and face.
Heat and ice for jaw crunch: Using an ice pack on the jaw for about 15 minutes, followed by a warm compress for 10 minutes, can help relieve symptoms in some people.
Avoid hard foods - Raw vegetables or chewy foods can make the outbreak and other symptoms worse, so avoid eating such foods.
Choose softer foods like yogurt and cooked vegetables. Food should be eaten in small bites so that you don't need to open your mouth too wide.
If you're concerned about missing your favorite foods, some doctors report that after avoiding hard foods for a while, many jaw patients can go back to eating harder foods, albeit slowly.
Relax your jaw: When you hold your mouth slightly open, it leaves a gap between your teeth that can help relieve pressure on your jaw.
Manage stress: Reducing stress can ease a jaw popping, especially if the problem stems from stress-related teeth grinding. Meditation, deep breathing exercises, and physical activity can help.
Don't over-extend your jaw: Avoid activities that open your mouth, such as yelling, singing, or chewing gum.
Maintain good posture: You can reduce facial misalignment by maintaining good posture.
Physical therapy: Massage and face lifts can be helpful for some people with these types of jaw problems. However, this should first be discussed with a doctor.
Wear a night guard - it can help you avoid grinding your teeth while you sleep. A night guard or splint can also be used to treat malocclusion of the teeth.
Dental work: Problems such as overbites and underbites that lead to a jaw click can be addressed with dental work.
Nerve stimulation: Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a procedure that uses electrical currents to help relax the muscles of the face and jaw to relieve pain.
Injections: Some people with myofascial pain syndrome may receive injections into their trigger points that can relieve symptoms.
Ultrasound: Applying heat to the joint with ultrasound can improve jaw mobility and reduce or stop pain.
Laser or radio wave therapy: This is a treatment that stimulates movement and relieves pain in the jaw, mouth, and neck areas.
Surgery: This last resort approach to treating jaw clenching often depends on the underlying problem and its severity.
Some potential surgeries include removing fluid from the joint (arthrocentesis), replacing or repairing the joint (open joint surgery), or using very small surgical instruments to repair the joint (arthroscopy).
A jaw with this problem can be aggravating and painful, but it does not have to dictate the quality of your life. With proper evaluation and care, many people who experience this sensation find ways to cope and recover from it. There are many different treatment options and the need for surgery is rare.
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