A normal healthy Temporomandibular Joint is smooth and quiet during function. Deviations and deflections of the jaw to one side or the other, or changes in the speed that the jaw opens can signal problems.
The Causes of Jaw Popping and Clicking
Separating the upper jaw bone from the lower jaw is a small piece of cartilaginous tissue which we refer to as the “disc”. The disc has no blood supply but draws from synovial fluid in the joint to lubricate the joint and allow for smooth movement. As the jaw opens and closes, the disc stays in contact with the bones by virtue of a muscle that controls the forward movement of the disc (lateral pterygoid) and vascular tissue and ligaments which keep it from moving too far forward and getting stuck. The ligaments are also closely connected to the inner ear and can cause many unwanted symptoms.
Trauma to the jaw, either acute from a blow, or chronic from clenching, can cause changes to the position of the disc. For instance if the jaw is positioned too far posteriorly and held in this position through clenching, the disc slides forward due to lack of room. Therefore, when the jaw opens it has to “pop” onto the disc in order for the jaw to open properly.
Our Dentist in Raleigh Can Help Patients With TMJ
Prolonged popping and clicking can wear out the disc and cause serious problems down the road. There can be irreversible damage, so it’s best to treat the problems early to avoid damage later. If you are having jaw pain in Raleigh, NC and want to be evaluated by a leading provider in TMJ treatment, contact our dentist Dr. James Harold today.