Has it ever happened to you that you open your mouth wide, a clicking sound comes off, and it starts to hurt? If so, you probably have had a jaw pop.
Jaw popping is a dental condition that happens when you exert too much pressure on your jaw by either opening it too wide while eating or yawning. Other times it could be because of dysfunction of the joints that bind the jawbone with the skull.
You must be having varied questions in your mind, like why does my jaw pop or how to stop your jaw from popping, right? Well, we have addressed every query related to jaw popping in this guide and provided its possible causes and treatments as well. Just scroll down to dive right into the details.
What is Jaw Popping?
Jaw popping is a dental condition that affects 10 million people in the United States. According to studies, women get affected by this problem more than men. It occurs when your jaw makes a clicking sound accompanied by pain and discomfort.
Temporomandibular joints (TMJ) dysfunction is the primary cause of jaw popping. They connect your jaw to the skull from each side, enabling you to talk, chew and yawn. The condition is typically referred to as TMD or TMJD.
Symptoms of Jaw Popping
Jaw popping can show multiple symptoms depending on person to person. Below we have mentioned some of the most common ones.
- Pain and discomfort
- Difficulty in opening and closing the mouth
- Toothache, neck ache or earache
- Tenderness in neck, jaw and overall face
- Face swelling
- Locking, either in open or closed positions
What Causes Jaw Popping?
There could be no one reason for jaw-popping. That said, it mainly arises from dysfunction of temporomandibular joints (TMJs). The prevailing condition can be possibly connected to the following habits:
- Teeth grinding
- Nail biting
- Chewing gum excessively and frequently
- Biting the inside of the lips and cheeks
- Jaw clenching
They might not sound like a huge cause for jaw popping, but unfortunately, these habits can eventually cause your jaw to pop. Moreover, certain medical conditions also serve as the underlying cause for jaw popping. They include:
- Dislocate or broken Jaw
- Teeth Malocclusion
- Myofascial pain syndrome
- Sleep apnea
How to Stop your Jaw from Popping - Home Remedies
Since most of us prefer home remedies to treat minor illnesses and injuries, we decided to look into some home treatments that you can do for jaw popping.
- Heat and ice packs: It is recommended to apply heat and ice packs (interchangeably) on the jaw for around 10 to 15 minutes with a warm compress, subsequently for at least 5 minutes. You can do it several times a day to minimize the symptoms.
- Avoid hard foods: Avoid hard, crunchy, raw vegetables and food items that may exert pressure on your jaw. Instead, go for soft foods such as cooked vegetables, liquid foods and yogurt. Ensure you consume food in small bites to prevent your jaw from opening too wide.
- Relax the jaw: Try to reduce pressure on the jaw and relax it by slightly keeping your mouth open, leaving a small space between both the jaws.
- Reduce stress: Stress plays a crucial role in jaw popping. It induces jaw clenching or teeth-grinding, which eventually leads to jaw popping. Try increasing physical activity and often meditating to manage stress.
- Don’t overexert the Jaw: Try avoiding activities that involve wide jaw opening, for instance, chewing, yelling and singing.
- Maintain good posture: Improve your body posture as it reduces facial misalignment and will give you relief.
- Try physical therapy: Some facial massages and stretches really help with jaw popping. Search for a good therapist and get jaw therapy to reduce the symptoms.
- Over-the-counter medications: There is no harm in taking over-the-shelf medicines. Some medicines you can take to reduce jaw popping symptoms include Naproxen, ibuprofen, or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Medical Treatments for Jaw Popping
If none of the already mentioned remedies doesn’t work, you may consider getting a dentist appointment to get a physical examination. Professional treatment options include:
- Medication: Your dentist may prescribe you high doses of muscle relaxers, anti-anxiety pills, NSAIDs and antidepressants to suppress the symptoms.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS): It is a therapy in which an electrical current is applied to relax the muscles of the jaw and reduce pain.
- Ultrasound: Your doctor may apply heat to your jaws in order to improve mobility and reduce discomfort.
- Mouthpieces: The dentist may apply a night guard or splint to prevent teeth grinding or clenching. They also help with improper teeth alignment.
- Pain-relieving injections: People experiencing myofascial pain may receive injections into the trigger points to reduce jaw pain.
- Radio wave therapy or Laser therapy: These therapies stimulate movement and eradicate discomfort in the jaw, mouth and neck.
- Surgery: When nothing works, the dentist resorts to surgery. The type and criticality of the surgery will depend on the patient’s condition.
If you are someone suffering from jaw popping issue, it is advised to get a second or even a third opinion before finally going for surgery.
By now, you must know what jaw popping is and what are the primary causes of it. Women, especially young girls aged between 30 to 50, appear to be the most common target for jaw popping. Therefore, it is advised to take early precautions to ward off its threat.Avoid teeth grinding, nail-biting, chewing gum excessively and frequently, biting the inside of the lips and cheeks and jaw clenching. Lastly, visit your dentist every six months to check your oral health. Doing so will help diagnose dental conditions in their early stages if there are any.
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