Chewing should be second nature and an enjoyable experience for all people. But if you’re constantly feeling a popping sensation when you open your mouth, you quickly lose your appetite. Pain follows in your jaw joint, and you find yourself avoiding eating, talking, or using your jaw for anything.
You may have TMJ, a common problem that causes clicking and popping sensation in the jaw joint. You can find relief from your pain with treatment for TMJ popping. A qualified orthodontist will have the solution you’re looking for.
Keep reading to learn all you need to know about TMJ and how you can find relief.
What is TMJ?
Your jaw consists of a jawbone connected to the skull by two joints, one on each side of your face. the hinge action of this joint helps you chew, yawn, and talk. If this joint does not work properly, it will pop.
Medical experts refer to this popping or cracking sensation as a dysfunction of the TMJ or temporomandibular joint. Professionals use the term TMJ interchangeably to refer to both the joint that connects your jawbone to your skull and the disorder that leads to its cracking and popping. They will also refer to the disorder as TMD or TMJD.
What Causes Jaw Popping?
TMJ stems from any one of a variety of possibilities. Sometimes you can cause your jaw to pop, and sometimes your genetics creates this sensation. TMJ and jaw popping can come from:
- Grinding your teeth
- Clenching you jaw
- Chewing gum too often
- Biting you fingernails
- Biting your lip or cheek
- Thrusting out your jaw
Performed frequently enough, these tendencies can wear down the joint and eventually erode its cartilage. Ultimately, this will lead to the popping and clicking sensation and regular intervals of pain.
Even if you’re experiencing jaw popping without pain or jaw clicking on one side only, you should seek an orthodontist who specializes in TMJ. You can wear the joint down and then will feel pain if you do not care for your jaw.
If you suspect TMJ in yourself or a loved one, visit a dentist or doctor. They will conduct a thorough evaluation and examine your jaw carefully. They may observe your range of motion in your jaw, listen to your jaw as you open and close your mouth, and then press on the jaw to find areas that hurt.
The doctor or dentist may also order tests such as an x-ray to examine your jaw and teeth, a CT scan to provide more thorough images, or an MRI to see any disc or soft tissue problems around your TMJ.
For the most thorough analysis, the doctor may conduct a TMJ arthroscopy, where they scope your joint. In this case, the doctor will insert a small thin tube into your joint space. They will then insert a small camera to see the joint better and diagnose your problem.
Treatment for TMJ Popping
A thorough TMJ treatment will include a variety of options including medication, exercises, therapy, and even surgery in severe cases. An orthodontist who specializes in TMJ disorder and treatment will be able to recommend the best TMJ exercises.
In a few cases, your TMJ disorder may go away without treatment. But if you continue to have pain, clicking, and popping, your doctor will recommend one of the following treatments or a combination of treatments.
Your medical professional will begin with medication first to relieve your pain and help your muscles relax. In particular, a doctor may begin with a pain reliever or anti-inflammatory medication, especially if the over-the-counter pain medication you’ve taken isn’t doing the job. A medical professional can prescribe stronger pain medication to help you find relief.
You may also receive a prescription for a tricyclic antidepressant. In low doses, these medications relieve pain and treat bruxism control and sleeplessness.
Muscle relaxants also work well to relieve the pain TMJ causes. A doctor may prescribe these to relieve any muscle spasms you’ve had associated with TMJ.
Your orthodontist will also try non-drug therapies, possibly in coordination with medication that initially gets your pain under control. They’ll begin with an oral splint or mouthguard. These devices fit over teeth and may help with aligning the jaw.
Your doctor or orthodontist will also begin physical therapy. These exercises will strengthen and stretch your jaw muscles. They may also use moist heat, ice, and ultrasound to relax the muscles and alleviate joint pain.
Finally, you will receive counseling sessions that give you education regarding TMJ. Your medical professional will seek to help you understand the behaviors that irritate your TMJ and cause pain. If the TMJ stems from behaviors such as biting your fingernails, clenching your teeth, grinding your teeth, or leaning on your chin, counseling will help.
If behavioral counseling, physical therapy, and medication do not cure your TMJ, then your orthodontist will recommend surgery. There are a few different procedures that can alleviate your TMJ.
With arthrocentesis, your doctor will insert a small needle into your joint. They will remove debris and any byproducts causing inflammation by irrigating the joint.
Your doctor may also opt for either a corticosteroid injection or a botox injection. The corticosteroid injection will alleviate pain, and the botox will relax the jaw muscles that clench while you chew.
A modified condylotomy is a type of surgery focused on the mandible but not the TMJ. This procedure will treat the pain, especially if your joint locks regularly.
The most invasive and aggressive option is an open-joint surgery. Doctors will opt for open-joint surgery if you have a structural problem with the joint. In this procedure, the doctor will replace or repair the joint.
Seek a Jaw Expert
When you’re seeking treatment for TMJ popping, go to the people who know best how to treat it. An orthodontist does more than affix braces to teeth. They’re your whole jaw expert.
A qualified orthodontist will have successful treatments and answers for how to cure TMJ permanently. Seek one today if you’re experiencing pain, popping, or clicking on one or both sides of your jaw.
For excellent jaw care, contact us to schedule a consultation. We can put you back on the road to good health and have you chewing, yawning, and talking without pain.