why does my jaw keep locking and cracking

Exploring TMJ Disorder Symptoms:бCrepitus БWhy is my jaw popping? Б
Do you experience clicking, cracking and popping when your jaw opens or closes? Sometimes we all experience temporary jaw sounds. БCrepitusБ is the medical term for any clicking, popping or grinding sound that emanates from a joint and, in many cases, it is the result from pressure causing movement and a release of nitrogen gas and bursting. б Again, any of these symptoms can be one-time experiences or temporary annoyances. However, in other cases these sounds can be a symptom of an underlying, more severe issue in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This article will cover the differences between jaw popping that may be associated with TMJD and normal joint functions. In a fascinating study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, scientists actually recorded the jaws of their patients. In the study, three dentists listened to and classified the sound recordings as 1) no sound, 2) click, 3) coarse crepitus and 4) fine crepitus. The sounds were recorded with microphones in the ear canal from 126 subjects during vertical opening. The recordings were then digitized and replayed using a computer sound card and speakers. The dentists found that the sounds made by the jaws of patients with TMJ Disorders were Бsignificantly differentБ than the sounds made by those without the condition. б Further, studies by dentist/author Rickne Scheid showed that over one-third of his students had some sort of signs of the sound in one side of their jaws. This means that not every case of jaw popping and jaw noise points to a TMJ Disorder. б However, jaw noises can be a sign that there could be degeneration to the articular disc or a structural issue with the TMJ that could lead to a disorder in the future.


How Do I know if My Jaw Popping is a Sign of a TMJ Disorder? If your jaw is popping or making noises, is it also coupled with any of the following symptoms? : If your jaw pops and the experience is also painful, you may have more going on than a temporary symptom. : If your jaw locks in place when it pops open or closed, you should definitely seek a opinion on your condition. (See below for tips on finding a qualified neuromuscular dentist. ) : Does the popping happen frequently and often during the same types of activities (such as yawning or chewing)? The consistency of the experience may point to a larger jaw issue. Why Do Jaws Pop? The temporomandibular joints are the points at which the lower jaw (the mandible) attaches to the skull. They are among the most complex joints in the human anatomy. If you place your fingers on the sides of your face, just in front of your ears, and open and close your mouth, you can feel the movement of the mandible in the temporomandibular joints. That is often where jaw popping and noises originate, caused by one of the following: The head of the mandible causing pressure on the articular disc and causes the sounds. The joint capsule is pressured causing a popping. The cartilage in the TMJ has worn down and is causing a grinding noise. What Should I do if My Jaw Pops? If you are experiencing popping or a locked jaw, you should see a neuromuscular dentist. He or she will use one of the following techniques to CT or CAT Scans can provide detail on the bones in the joint and surrounding areas, the sinuses, and the brain. MRI shows the soft tissues including the disc and muscles. б MRIs can also be taken with the mouth open and closed to show positioning of the disc and muscles in relation to the joints. Tomography is a type of x-ray that shows cross sections of the jaw area.


Other routine dental x-rays can be used to diagnose TMJ disorder that provide views of the head, joint, teeth, and surrounding areas. What are the Treatments for Jaw Popping? The neuromuscular dentist may provide you with one of the following treatment regimens, depending on the severity of your condition: Tricyclic antidepressants, also used for pain relief. This procedure involves the insertion of needles into the joint so that fluid can be irrigated through the joint to remove debris and inflammatory byproducts. Injections, such as corticosteroids Jaw popping may be related to a bigger issue with your jaw joints. In order to be sure, seek the advice of a neuromuscular dentist. Finding a qualified specialist in your area is easy on Quantitative description of temporomandibular joint sounds: defining clicking, popping, egg shell crackling and footsteps on gravel. http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pubmed/11380788 Academy of General Dentistry, Photography: by Marc Forrest; licensed underб The TMJ is on each side of the face, where the jawbone (mandible) connects with the face's temporal bone. A piece of cartilage between the two bones keeps them from rubbing together. Ligaments, tendons and muscles support the joint and are responsible for jaw movement. The muscles, connective tissue and bony joints all work together. So a problem with any one can result in TMJ dysfunction. Symptoms of such dysfunction include stiffness, headaches, pain in the face, bite problems, clicking or cracking sounds and locked jaws. TMJ dysfunction is most common in adult women. Fortunately, 80 percent of people with this disorder get better in about six months, often without treatment. The causes of TMJ dysfunction fall into two categories: tight muscles and damaged joints. Anything that causes the jaw muscles to tighten up can cause TMJ dysfunction, including stress and dental disease.


Damage to the TMJ can result from trauma or disease such as arthritis. Less common causes of joint problems include fusion of bones or calcification of ligaments (ankylosis), looseness of the jaw caused by stretched ligaments, and birth abnormalities. Treatment is based on cause. If the TMJ dysfunction is found to be due to stress, stress-management techniques such as biofeedback, relaxation exercises and participation in support groups may be recommended. Treatment of TMJ dysfunction caused by clenching and grinding may include wearing a mouthpiece to reduce clenching and prevent damage to teeth, and muscle relaxants. The mouthpiece is a plastic device that fits over upper and lower teeth to properly position the jaw. If misalignment of the bones or cartilage in the TMJ joint is the cause, a dentist may try to manually realign the joint. If joint tissues are injured, physical therapy can help reduce pain and swelling as well as aid muscle relaxation. Occasionally, a TMJ dysfunction may cause problems with how the teeth themselves fit together (called the "bite"). The mouthpiece may help with this, but orthodontics or restorative dental work may be necessary. If osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis is the cause of the TMJ, the treatment is about the same as a treatment of any other affected joint: restriction of joint use and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain relief and to reduce swelling. Many self-care procedures help relieve TMJ dysfunction. The most important form of self-care is to relax the muscles in the jaw. The key to this is to try to keep the teeth apart at all times, except when swallowing or eating. The mouthpiece can help develop this good habit.

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