Why does my jaw click and is it bad?

One of the most common symptoms I see in the clinic here is clicking of the jaw, but why does it do this and how can it be stopped?

Internal disc derangements sounds complicated, but isn’t really

Clicking of the jaw is often caused by poor mobility or malalignment of the articular disc inside the temporomandibular joint. This is called internal disc derangement. The disc inside the TMJ allows for smooth movement of the lower jaw bone (mandible) on the facial (Temporal) bone. When the articular disc becomes misaligned it is unable to move in its full motion. As your jaw moves, the disc moves as well. However, when it is misaligned it becomes stuck and must click itself back into normal position and movement. This quick movement can give off the loud clicking you hear as you open or close your jaw, often only heard on one side of the TMJ, but can occur on both.

 

There are many factors that can cause misalignment within the disc of the TMJ, such as previous injury, dental procedures, surgeries, or clenching and grinding of the teeth. These have all been known to cause TMD.

So what can be done about it?

Firstly, identifying the true cause of the misalignment is required for full treatment. Particularly, identifying whether the muscle restriction/ tension is originating from ligaments within the TMJ.  At Premier Sports & Spinal Medicine, we use a variety of techniques to assist the disc in returning to its natural position, such as dry needling, muscle massage or stretching techniques.

Often clicking inside the TMJ will resolve by itself, however you can tell if it will not. If you suffer from one or more symptoms of TMD, other than a click, it is likely it will not resolve itself. Long-term effects of waiting to treat TMD include complete locking of the jaw, or even small bone fragments building up inside of the joint. Symptoms such as restricted motion, an inability to bite or chew, pain can show you have more than a click, and seeking treatment is the appropriate course of action.