My Jaw Has Always Popped. Why Should I Get It Treated Now?
Boutique Dentistry for Nashville, Tennessee
It’s important to understand that jaw popping and clicking is not a harmless symptom. It is related to serious jaw dysfunction that will likely only get worse without treatment.
However, we also know that many people ignore this symptom, not understanding the consequences.
If this is you, here are some of the signs that your jaw dysfunction has taken a sudden turn for the worse, and you should seek treatment with an expert neuromuscular dentist like Dr. Kent E. White in Nashville, Tennessee.
Why Your Jaw Pops
Before we get into the signs of worsening jaw dysfunction (likely a form of temporomandibular joint dysfunction, often called TMJ), we have to explain what, exactly, is causing your jaw to pop the way it has been. It will help you understand why things are changing in your jaw.
Jaw popping is normally caused by disc displacement. The temporomandibular joint, which connects the jaw to the skull, is made up of two bones: the temporal bone and the mandible, and between these two bones is a cushioning disc. For many people, this disc slips out of place when you close your jaw. Then, as you open your jaw, it slips back in place, causing a sudden pop or click. You probably notice your jaw moves when this happens, a sudden jerking motion.
Not everyone who has jaw dysfunction experiences jaw pain. If you haven’t had jaw pain before, but it starts to develop, that can be a sign that your jaw dysfunction is changing for the worse. Take this as a sign that it’s time to get treated.
Limited Jaw Opening
Many people with a popping jaw find that they can’t open their jaw open very wide. This is because the displaced disc might be interfering with the ability of the jaw to open all the way.
You might not realize how limited your jaw opening is at first, but as it worsens and you can no longer eat the foods you used to enjoy, it can be impossible to ignore.
The improper function of having the cushioning disc slip in and out of place can work for a long time, until it doesn’t. The disc can suddenly become lodged in a position that prevents your jaw from moving. You either can’t open it or can’t close it.
This may happen, resolve spontaneously, and then happen again. If it does happen, don’t force your jaw motion–this can lead to serious damage to your joints. It’s important to see a professional who can massage the disc back into place without causing traumatic joint damage, then make sure the disc stays in place better.
You might be familiar with the sound of your popping joint. It’s a normal sound and doesn’t cause you any trouble. But what about when it changes? You likely noticed the change, and it’s a sign that you should seek attention.
The jaw sound changes may be a warning that your disc is having more difficulty slipping in and out of place, which can lead to a locking jaw. Or it might be an indication that the bones are grinding against one another when the disc is out of place, causing serious damage to the joint structure. In all cases, professional help can lead to a successful diagnosis and treatment of your jaw problems.
When your jaw is moving irregularly, it can lead to excess force on some or all of your teeth. This can cause your teeth to wear out faster than they should.
You might not notice tooth wear at first. But as you experience more teeth that are chipped, cracked, and worn, you should pay attention. This is the sign that your jaw problems are leading to serious tooth damage, which can be expensive and difficult to restore.
Treat Jaw Problems Early
Expert Nashville neuromuscular dentist Dr. Kent E. White understands how seemingly harmless jaw symptoms can become more serious with time. He knows how to head off problems, and how to fix many of them once they occur. He encourages you to seek neuromuscular dentistry treatment before you develop irreversible damage.
Please call (615) 383-6787 today for an appointment at the Center for Advanced Dentistry.