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Jaw Clicking Checker

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Your Jaw Clicking May Also be Known as:
Jaw popping

Jaw Clicking Symptoms

  • While chewing or speaking you may begin to notice an off-and-on clicking or popping sound that seems to be coming from inside your head, at a point just in front of or just above your ear. This is in your temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, which is the hinged joint that connects your upper and lower jaws.
  • The clicking may seem to be a harmless, though annoying, symptom, and is often painless. But a clicking jaw is almost always a sign of some misalignment of your teeth, your jawbones, or your jaw muscles, and should be investigated by a medical provider so that the underlying cause can be treated before it might get any worse. Jaw clicking is a type of temporomandibular disorder, or TMD.

Characteristics:

Duration:

  • Sometimes TMD will resolve on its own, especially if you make an effort to manage your stress and control habits like grinding your teeth.
  • But in many cases, the symptoms continue or even get worse as time passes.

Is jaw clicking serious?

  • If there is no pain associated with the clicking, you might not need to see a medical provider.
  • But if there is pain or discomfort, or the simple annoyance of the clicking is reason enough, your medical provider can certainly help and refer you to a specialist if necessary.

Jaw Clicking Causes Overview

Many conditions can have jaw clicking as a symptom. The most common are those causing severe strain and tension in the muscles of the head and neck, although misalignment of the jawbones may have the same symptom.

Muscular causes:

  • This means anything that strains and overworks the muscles of the jaw until they don't work together smoothly any longer. The result is an uneven stretching and retracting of the muscles. You hear this unevenness as a click, since it occurs in the jaw's hinge joint right at your ears.

Dental causes:

  • Teeth grinding : Constantly, and subconsciously, grinding or clenching the teeth can overwork the jaw muscles.
  • Malocclusion of the teeth: If the teeth do not meet correctly, and you have a bite that is off center, this can cause an uneven strain on some of the jaw muscles.
  • Dentures which don't fit well and cause malocclusion.

Skeletal causes:

  • Misalignment of the jaw bones may cause a click when you try to open or close your mouth, which forces the uneven hinge joint to work.
  • Congenital misalignment: This means you have some inherited deformity of your jawbones which prevents them from lining up properly and, therefore, opening and closing smoothly.
  • Injury: If your jaw is broken or dislocated through an injury, it may be left misaligned and clicking even after it seems to have healed.
  • Disease: Some degenerative bone and connective tissue disorders can damage the alignment of your jaw's hinge joint.

Psychological causes:

  • Stress: can cause great tension in the cheeks and jaws, also overworking these muscles.

Top 10 Jaw Clicking Causes

  1. 1.Temporomandibiular Joint (Tmj) Dysfunction Disorder

    The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located in front of the ear, and it connects the jaw to the side of the head. Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is a painful condition which can be caused by excess tension in jaw mucles, faulty alignment between upper and lower teeth, arthritis in the joint, or injury of the jaw or face.

    You should visit your primary care physician. This is a complex condition to treat, because the causes are not always clear. Treatment may include resting the jaw with a soft diet, pain medications, and physical therapy.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    dizziness, history of headaches, pain, restricted movement, and clicking sounds from jaw, pain in the back of the neck, jaw pain
    Symptoms that always occur with temporomandibiular joint (tmj) dysfunction disorder:
    pain, restricted movement, and clicking sounds from jaw
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Fibromyalgia

    Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes widespread pain, tenderness, and fatigue.

    Fibromyalgia is treated symptomatically. Medication, therapy, and stress reduction may reduce symptoms.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, anxiety, trouble sleeping, depressed mood, headache
    Symptoms that always occur with fibromyalgia:
    hidden: arthralgias or myalgias
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

    Impingement syndrome is a common shoulder condition seen in aging adults. The tendons of rotator cuff muscles, whose action is to rotate the arm such such as during a tennis swing, pass in a narrow space between two bones in the shoulder. When the space becomes too narrow, which can happen as a result of an overuse injury, pain may develop as the tendons rub against the bones.

    You should visit your primary care physician who will coordinate care with a muscle and bone specialist (orthopedic surgeon). Treatments for impingement syndrome involve rest, over-the-counter pain medication, steroid injections, physical therapy, and surgery in rare, serious cases.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in one shoulder, dull, achy shoulder pain, shoulder pain that gets worse at night, difficulty moving the shoulder, shoulder pain from overuse
    Symptoms that always occur with rotator cuff tendonitis:
    pain in one shoulder
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Infected Wisdom Tooth (Pericoronitis)

    Pericoronitis of the 3rd molar is an infection of the gums surrounding the 3rd molar (wisdom tooth). It almost never happens to normal teeth because wisdom teeth take a long time to break the gums (erupt). It's believed that once the wisdom tooth breaks the surface of the gums, the bacteria in the mouth get into the gums at that spot and cause an infection. This is also worsened by food particles that build up in the area.

    You should go immediately to your dentist, or, if they are not available, go to the nearest urgent care center. There, the dentist/doctor will clean the area, drain any pus, and write for an antibiotic mouth rinse. Penicillin is reserved for severe cases. A follow-up with a dentist is required to see if you need to get the tooth pulled.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    possible wisdom tooth pain, moderate tooth pain, tooth pain that makes chewing difficult, mild tooth pain, severe tooth pain
    Symptoms that always occur with infected wisdom tooth (pericoronitis):
    possible wisdom tooth pain
    Urgency:
    In-person visit
  5. 5.Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

    The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway filled with ligament and bones at the base of your hand. It contains nerve and tendons. Sometimes, thickening from irritated tendons or other swelling narrows the tunnel and causes the nerve to be compressed. Symptoms usually start gradually, and as they worsen, grasping objects can become difficult.

    Early diagnosis and treatment are important to prevent permanent nerve damage. Your doctor will diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome with a physical exam and special nerve tests. Treatment includes resting your hand, splints, pain and anti-inflammatory medicines. If symptoms do not improve with these less invasive treatments, your physician may recommend surgery.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    spontaneous shoulder pain, hand weakness, wrist pain, pain in one hand, weakness in one hand
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

    Jaw Clicking Checker

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  6. 6.Depression

    Depression is a mental disorder in which a person feels constantly sad, hopeless, discouraged, and loses interest in activities and life on more days than not. These symptoms interfere with daily life, work, and friendships.

    Contact your primary care physician to assess how urgent you should plan a visit to further discuss your symptoms. It is likely a referral to a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional will be given. Treatment may include counseling, lifestyle changes, and medication.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, depressed mood, anxiety, irritability, headache
    Symptoms that always occur with depression:
    depressed mood
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Acute Viral Sinusitis

    Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinus spaces behind the nose and cheeks. These spaces produce mucus, which drains into the nose. If the nose is swollen or if the mucus does not drain, this can block the sinuses and cause pain or infection.

    You can treat your symptoms at home using ibuprofen (for pain) and Tylenol (for a fever). Antibiotics for this diagnosis are not helpful because this is likely a viral infection.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    headache, cough, sore throat, sinusitis symptoms, muscle aches
    Symptoms that always occur with acute viral sinusitis:
    sinusitis symptoms
    Symptoms that never occur with acute viral sinusitis:
    being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  8. 8.Viral Throat Infection

    Viral pharyngitis is an inflammation of the pharynx, the part of the throat between the nasal cavity and mouth, which causes throat pain.

    Antibiotics are not useful for viral infections. You can gargle with salt water and use over the counter pain medication like Tylenol to treat your painful or sore throat.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    sore throat, cough, congestion, fever, hoarse voice
    Symptoms that always occur with viral throat infection:
    sore throat
    Symptoms that never occur with viral throat infection:
    being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  9. 9.Panic Disorder

    Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder. It causes panic attacks, which are sudden feelings of terror without true danger. One may feel as if they are losing control or have physical symptoms like sweating or a racing heart.

    You should go see your primary care doctor, who can diagnose you by interview. Most people get better with treatment. Therapy can show you how to recognize and change your thinking patterns before they lead to panic. Medication may be beneficial.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    nausea, anxiety, abdominal pain (stomach ache), stomach bloating, depressed mood
    Symptoms that always occur with panic disorder:
    anxiety, impaired social or occupational functioning
    Symptoms that never occur with panic disorder:
    agoraphobia
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  10. 10.Swimmer's Ear (Otitis Externa)

    Swimmer's ear, also known as otitis externa, is inflammation, irritation, or infection of the outer ear and ear canal.

    You should go to your primary care doctor in the next day or so. There, diagnosis can be confirmed by observation. Treatment with antibiotic drops will be started.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fever, ear canal pain, ear fullness/pressure, jaw pain, ear pain that gets worse when moving
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Jaw Clicking Treatments and Relief

Seek immediate treatment in the emergency room or call 911 if your jaw is clicking after you've suffered a blow to the head or face through a fall, an automobile accident, or some other injury.

Schedule an appointment with

  • Your dentist, if you believe you have a malocclusion (a bite that is off center.)
  • Your regular medical provider, if you believe you have a misalignment of the jaw. This could have been present from birth or may be due to a prior injury. Your provider can also arrange for physical therapy to help correct the TMD.
  • A psychologist or other counselor, for help with stress management and easing tension.

Remedies that you can try at home

  • Making lifestyle changes to improve diet, exercise, and sleep habits, which can all help to reduce stress.
  • Making a conscious effort to stop grinding your teeth. An inexpensive mouth guard, available over-the-counter in drug stores, is helpful to some patients.
  • Using hot or cold packs on the painful areas of the TMJ.
  • Taking over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen.

FAQs About Jaw Clicking

Here are some frequently asked questions about jaw clicking.

Can stress cause jaw clicking?

No, jaw clicking is most commonly caused by swelling of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). It can frequently be treated with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as NSAIDs like ibuprofen. It is not caused by stress. Jaw clicking can, however, be caused by chronic teeth grinding which can cause inflammation of the temporomandibular joint.

What does it mean when your jaw clicks all the time?

It may mean that you have a disorder of your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Common disorders include temporomandibular joint dysfunction or temporomandibular joint dislocation. Dysfunction is most commonly inflammation of the joint due to an infection or teeth grinding. Infections may occur following an ear infection and teeth grinding, especially nighttime grinding, may be due to stress.

Why is my jaw clicking when I eat?

Your jaw may be clicking when you eat because as you eat you use your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The swelling increases the pressure in the joint which escapes as the joint is stretched, causing a clicking noise. This clicking may be because of how your jaw sits and has developed or it may be a sign of inflammation.

Why does my jaw clicking cause a headache?

Jaw clicking is associated with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, which may also cause a headache. Usually they are one-sided but can affect both sides of the head. If you grind your teeth at night headaches may occur in the morning.

Why does your jaw pop when you yawn?

Your jaw pops when you yawn because you are stretching your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). As the joint stretches, it allows carbon dioxide or nitrogen that is dissolved in the joint fluid or synovial fluid to expand, causing a clicking sound as that gas escapes the joint capsule. Usually this is a painless clicking or popping sensation.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Jaw Clicking

  • Q.Is your jaw stiffness constant or come-and-go?
  • Q.How severe is your jaw stiffness?
  • Q.How long has your jaw stiffness been going on?
  • Q.Have you been experiencing dizziness?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, check our jaw clicking symptom checker.

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Jaw Clicking Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced jaw clicking have also experienced:

    • 13% Jaw Pain
    • 4% Locking or Dislocating Jaw
    • 3% Moderate Jaw Pain
  • People who have experienced jaw clicking had symptoms persist for:

    • 33% Less Than a Day
    • 28% Over a Month
    • 22% Less Than a Week
  • People who have experienced jaw clicking were most often matched with:

    • 54% Temporomandibiular Joint (Tmj) Dysfunction Disorder
    • 8% Fibromyalgia
    • 6% Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

Jaw Clicking Checker

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having jaw clicking.

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