Picture yourself driving down the road when you immediately begin to hear a clinking sound coming from under your car. What do you do? You pull over, examine it, and consider possible options to fix it. Similarly, when your jaw starts to make noises that it’s not supposed to, it would be wise to follow the same steps! Let us help you understand whether or not a clicking jaw is something to worry about.
What is TMJ/TMD?
Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) refers to the pain and dysfunction of the muscles of mastication (the muscles that move the jaw) and the temporomandibular joints (the joints which connect the mandible to the skull).
Do you have TMJ/TMD?
Some common symptoms of TMD include:
- Swelling on the sides of the face
- Muscle spasms in the jaw area
- A change in the alignment of the top and bottom teeth
- Locked jaw or limited opening of the mouth
- Pain in the jaw area
- Pain, ringing, or stuffiness in the ears
- Frequent headaches or neck aches
- Clicking or popping sound when the jaw moves
If you feel that you’ve been experiencing some of the symptoms listed above, you may want to take the time to schedule a professional exam. Doing so will allow you to know whether or not TMD has been the cause of your symptoms.
TMD can be treated in many ways, dependant upon your professional diagnosis. Non-surgical options include short-term, non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs for pain and muscle relaxation, bite plate or splint therapy, and even stress management counseling.
If non-surgical treatment is unsuccessful or there is clear joint damage, oral surgery may be necessary. The surgical treatment of TMD can involve either arthroscopy or direct jaw surgery, depending on the extent of the damage.