My Jaw Always Pops: Do I Have TMJ Disorder?

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My Jaw Always Pops: Do I Have TMJ Disorder?

A persistently popping jaw could be a sign that something’s wrong with your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Learn more about the causes of jaw popping and what to do here.

Maybe your jaw only pops when you yawn, or maybe it’s a near-constant bother whenever you chew. However frequently it happens, if you have a recurrent popping in your jaw, you’re likely wondering two things: What causes it and what can you do?

Aishwarya Kumar, DDS, and our team at Aqua Dentistry can help. We specialize in treating temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, one of the leading causes of jaw popping, here at our San Jose, California, office. Dr. Kumar can analyze your jaw popping to identify what’s causing it and help you find the right option to put the popping to a stop. 

To begin, it’s helpful to understand why your jaw might be popping. 

What causes jaw popping

As we mentioned, TMJ disorder leads the pack in terms of jaw popping. Your temporomandibular joints are located on each side of your face and hinge your jaw, connecting your jawbone to your face while allowing it to move so you can talk, eat, and more. 

TMJ disorder often causes jaw popping along with other symptoms like:

  • Pain and tenderness in your face, especially along your jaw
  • Discomfort when you chew
  • Locking in the joint(s)
  • Aching around your jaw

Ultimately, an issue with these joints you probably haven’t thought much about before can have a big impact. 

All this said, TMJ disorder isn’t the only cause of jaw popping. You might also have that sensation because of:

  • Arthritis impacting the cartilage that should cushion that joint
  • A broken or dislocated jaw
  • An oral infection
  • Tooth alignment problems that affect your bite
  • Myofascial pain syndrome, a disorder that causes pain in some muscles

If you’re living with jaw popping, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kumar. She can assess your health history and use diagnostic tools like dental X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or a computed tomography (CT) scan to get a clear idea of what’s going on in your temporomandibular joints. This way, she can diagnose the cause of our jaw popping and help you seek effective treatment. 

Treating jaw popping caused by TMJ disorder

For many people, the jaw popping stems from a joint disorder. Fortunately, Dr. Kumar has expertise in treating TMJ disorder. She generally starts with conservative treatment options, like:

  • Physical therapy (stretches and exercises for your jaw)
  • Ice or heat packs
  • Custom-fitted night guards
  • Lifestyle modifications

If your jaw popping doesn’t respond to treatments like these, Dr. Kumar can explore injections or arthrocentesis (fluid irrigation) with you. 

In some cases, she may recommend jaw surgery to correct your joint disorder. Many surgeons now offer TMJ surgery as a minimally invasive procedure. 

While your jaw popping doesn’t automatically mean you have TMJ disorder, it’s certainly likely that a joint issue causes your popping sensation. To find out what’s going on and explore your options for correcting it, contact our team at Aqua Dentistry. Call our office at 408-668-1914 or book your appointment online today.