Pain and discomfort in your jaw can really ruin your day. At our Mount Prospect dentist office, we have seen it become chronic and truly debilitating. So, why do these issues come up? What causes your jaw to pop and lock up? What can you do to avoid it in the future?
Before discussing how to stop jaw popping and locking, let’s look at why you’re experiencing this issue.
Why is your jaw popping or locked up?
When your jaw pops or makes a clicking sound, possibly followed by pain, this could be temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD) or temporomandibular disorder (TMD) at play. If you are experiencing popping in your jaw without accompanying pain, it is typically not a cause for concern, however, it’s a good idea to know what is causing the problem nonetheless.
Many different factors can contribute to the issue, including:
- Biting the inside of your lips or cheeks
- Clenching your jaw
- Excessively (or even regularly) chewing gum
- Grinding your teeth
In addition, jaw injuries, arthritis, sleep apnea, infection, an over or underbite, tumors, overextension, problems with the temporomandibular joint, and myofascial pain syndrome can also cause your jaw to pop and lock up.
Symptoms of Jaw Popping and Locking
Symptoms of jaw popping and locking can include a variety of issues, but some more common than others.
The most typical side effects are:
- Discomfort and pain
- Inability to open your mouth wide
- Toothache, earache, and/or neck ache
- Swelling in the face
- Tenderness in your face, jaw, and neck
- Locking, either in the closed or open positions
The 6 Best Ways to Stop Jaw Popping and Locking
Now that you have an idea of what is causing the issues with your jaw, as well as the symptoms you may experience, here are the 6 best ways to deal with it.
1. Watch Your Movements
If you start to notice your jaw popping and locking up, it’s vital that you don’t make any drastic movements with this part of your face. Meaning that you shouldn’t attempt to open your mouth wide or snap it shut. Doing this could cause further pain and damage.
2. Relieve Jaw Pressure
When you are able to, keep your teeth slightly apart. If you are someone who regularly clenches or grinds your teeth, it’s important to relax this area as much as possible to avoid further issues with your jaw.
3. Talk to a Professional
It can be intimidating to figure out which relaxation movements and techniques would be best for your personal situation. Consider speaking to a health professional, ideally a neuromuscular dentist like myself to discuss the best solutions for your jaw.
4. Work on Your Posture
Good posture can make a big difference for your entire body, even your jaw. Incorporating some basic exercises and testing your posture daily will help eliminate the pain in your jaw, teeth, face, and neck.
5. Watch What You Eat
Sticking to softer foods while avoiding extremely chewy or crunchy ones will make a big difference as well. Things like raw vegetables, caramel, chips, etc. can actually make the jaw popping and locking worse.
Consider eating foods like beans, cooked vegetables, yogurts, and smoothies over the harder options.
6. Consider a Professional, Long Lasting Treatment
Last but certainly not least, you should consider seeking treatment from a TMJ doctor like myself who can examine your jaw and help you decide the best solution for your jaw.
Solve Your Jaw Problems Today
If you are ready to stop jaw popping and locking issues, contact our TMJ dental office as soon as possible.
For those of you in the Chicago/Mt. Prospect area, TMJ dentist Dr. Tom Meyer can help to determine if your jaw popping is a cause of concern. Book a complimentary or a complete TMJ consult today.