There is no scientific evidence to suggest that clicking or popping sounds emanating from the jaw bone are cause for concern. These sounds happen to be quite common throughout the general population. Now, if this popping sound is accompanied by pain, stiffness or limited movement of the jaw then you’ll want to alert your dentist right away. This particular condition is known as “TMJ.”
While painless jaw popping isn’t a serious medical problem, that doesn’t mean it isn’t bothersome to those with a clicking jaw or the people they often eat with. More often than not, when people are experiencing this issue, it’s only on one side of their mouth. The main culprit of this audible annoyance? Chewing gum.
We most commonly see this issue in young adults, especially our patients that are young professionals in Philadelphia. It’s understandable, wanting to chew gum to relax or have fresh breath for a client meeting, but chronic gum chewing is a workout that your mastication muscles (those used for chewing) simply don’t need. It’s also a workout that, in time, they most likely won’t be able to handle.
We of course must eat to survive, and eating throughout the day is enough of a work out for our jaws. The overuse of our chewing muscles is what causes the popping. This in turn, can also trigger headaches and chronic pain of the neck. Down the line, repeated overexertion of the jaw muscles could become less of an annoyance and more of a problem.
If you’re a clicker, you’re probably wondering, “Well, what can I do?” The main answer is quite simple, chew less gum or don’t chew it at all. Sugar-free gum does have its oral health benefits, however we only recommend chewing it occasionally and for brief increments. Our resident Top Philadelphia Dentists of 2014 suggest that chewing gum for five minutes or less can freshen up your breath while cutting back on overworking those particular muscles.
On the other hand, if you are experiencing pain or discomfort when your jaw clicks then there is a possibility you are suffering from TMJ. If there are no further severe symptoms (i.e. facial pain, lock jaw, tooth and gum pain, shoulder pain, earache, facial swelling, neck pain, etc.) then you can take steps to ease your discomfort. Give the following a try:
- Eat soft foods
- Utilize ice packs
- Avoid extreme movement (wide yawning, yelling, loud singing)
- Try out relaxation and stress reducing techniques
- Practice exercises that stretch and relax your jaw (seek this advice from a professional)
These tactics may also help with painless clicking, though it isn’t guaranteed the clicking will go away. If you have a clicking jaw, seek a professionals advice.
We would be more than happy to discuss this with you and give you our opinion at your next dental visit, whether it be your six month check-up or a visit specifically for this issue.
Call today us at (215) 564-1025 to schedule your appointment if you haven’t already!