What It Really Means When Your Jaw Clicks

Feeling your jaw pop or click can be a strange sensation. Sometimes, it may simply be the result of overextending the jaw while yawning, or even opening your mouth too wide to take a big bite of food (via Medical News Today). However, jaw clicking can also be a sign of a disorder of the temporomandibular joints, known as TMD, or more casually referred to as TMJ.

In addition to jaw clicking, TMD can also include symptoms of pain, tenderness in the face or jaw, swelling, difficulty eating, a jaw that "locks" in place, as well as headaches, toothaches, neck aches, and earaches. The condition affects more than 10 million people according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, but is more common in women than men.

Jaw clicking can also result from grinding your teeth, nail biting, excessive gum chewing, clenching the jaw, or biting the inside of the cheek. It can also be a symptom of a broken or dislocated jaw, sleep apnea, an infection, tumor, or myofascial pain syndrome (MPS), a chronic condition that causes discomfort in the musculoskeletal system (via Healthline).

How to stop your jaw from clicking

There are a number of home remedies you can try to help alleviate jaw popping or clicking. First, you'll want to apply an ice pack to the area. You may also want to try taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like ibuprofen or aspirin. Eating a diet primarily made up of soft foods, as well as wearing a night guard may also prove helpful (via Healthline). Your doctor may also recommend specific TMD exercises to relieve pain.

Additionally, medical treatments for TMD are also an option. These include corrective dental treatments, trigger point injections, radio wave therapy, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). If these treatments don't work, your doctor may recommend surgery. Surgical procedures to treat TMD involve removing fluid from the joint and replacing or repairing the joint. The good news however, is that TMD is usually temporary and can typically be eased with simple everyday adjustments.