What causes a cracking jaw?

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If you have noticed a cracking, clicking, or snapping sound in your jaw, it could be a sign of a TMJ disorder.  

Jaw cracking, which may also be referred to as clicking, snapping, or popping of the jaw, often occurs along with other symptoms, such as jaw pain and a general sense of discomfort. If you have noticed this issue, you may also find that you have difficulty moving your jaw or that actions like chewing and biting are uncomfortable.

Sometimes, jaw cracking isn’t a cause of concern and simply occurs when yawning or opening the mouth particularly wide. In other cases, however, it could be a sign of an underlying issue, such as a TMJ disorder. Read on to find out more about what could be causing your jaw to crack or pop and what you can do about it if it is bothering you…

What causes jaw cracking?

One of the most common causes of jaw cracking is TMJ disorder. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the jawbone to the skull — when this joint does not function as it should, it can lead to a TMJ disorder, which may cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms. Along with a cracking or popping sound in the jaw, you may also notice jaw pain and stiffness, as well as locking of the jaw and limited mobility. Pain from the jaw often radiates into the face, neck, shoulders, and head and can even lead to chronic headaches.

Other possible causes of a cracking jaw include arthritis, which occurs when the joints become inflamed and damaged. It can result from injuries such as dislocation of the jaw and myofascial pain syndrome, a condition that can cause severe pain in the muscles of the jaw, neck, and shoulders.

When the upper and lower jaws are misaligned, it is possible to experience some of the symptoms associated with a TMJ disorder, such as a cracking jaw and difficulty with functions like biting and chewing.

In some cases, a jaw that cracks or snaps and pain in the area could be a sign of an infection in the jawbone, temporomandibular joint, or salivary glands. This type of infection could also lead to symptoms like swelling, fever, and difficulty when opening the mouth.

When should you seek professional help?  

In many cases, jaw cracking is not a cause for concern and often resolves within a few weeks. If, however, you notice that the sound gets worse over time or you experience persistent pain and/or stiffness in the jaw, it is advisable that you see your dentist or doctor. You should also consult with a professional if your jaw cracking is accompanied by other painful or uncomfortable symptoms, such as difficulty when chewing, biting, or speaking, fever, or a lump in the jaw.

To address a cracking jaw, your healthcare practitioner will begin by determining the cause of the problem. They will then formulate a treatment plan based on your particular needs, which may involve a combination of treatments and techniques.

How can we help?

If you are struggling with a cracking, snapping, or popping jaw, as well as other uncomfortable or painful symptoms related to your jaw, we encourage you to come in and see us. Your discomfort could be caused by a dental issue or TMJ disorder, and we will do our best to get to the bottom of the issue. We will then customise a treatment plan based on your particular needs.

In order to achieve optimal treatment outcomes, our dentist and chiropractor team takes a holistic approach. We offer a range of services designed to alleviate pain and help our patients enjoy overall wellness.

To find out more about our range of services, please have a look here.

To chat with our team or book an appointment, please contact us here or give us a call at (03) 9417 4038.