Here’s Why Your Jaw Is Clicking or Popping When You Eat

Clicking and popping noises while eating are often associated with TMJ disorder. For some people, these sounds are the only real symptoms of the condition, but for others, the noises are accompanied by pain. Dr. Ivan Stein of the Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey discusses why these sounds occur and the best treatment options.


The temporomandibular joint connects the skull and the jawbone. It works as a hinge, sliding back and forth and side to side, and there is a joint on each side of your jaw. The TMJ’s range of motion not only allows people to chew, but also to speak.

Clicking and Popping Noises 

When clicking and popping noises start accompanying chewing, an issue with the TMJ is the likely culprit. Sometimes, these noises disappear on their own. For some people, they are just the first signs of TMJ disorder, and an indication that the joint is out of alignment. Women are more likely to experience clicking and popping noises when eating than men.

Other TMJ Symptoms

While clicking and popping noises, whether or not accompanied by pain, are the initial symptoms of TMJ, they are far from the only ones. Suspect TMJ disorder if any of the following occur:

· Facial pain or swelling
· Problems opening or closing the mouth
· Earaches
· Jaw locking
· Headaches

People who constantly grind their teeth are at greater risk of developing TMJ disorder, as are those with arthritis in their jaw. The same holds true for anyone who has experienced a jaw injury. Constant gum chewing, jaw clenching or biting the inside of the cheek are also linked to TMJ disorder.   

TMJ Treatment 

While clicking and popping sounds are annoying, if there is no pain or any other symptoms involved, patients do not necessarily require treatment. However, if these noises signal pain, or if there is tenderness in the jaw or other signs of TMJ disorder, it is time to seek medical attention.

The doctor diagnoses TMJ disorder by examining the patient, obtaining a history of when the noises or other symptoms began, and performing an X-ray to obtain a full view of the joint.

TMJ disorder treatment may involve medication, mouth guards and jaw-strengthening exercises. Those seriously afflicted with TMJ disorder may require surgery, although some of these procedures are minimally invasive.

For More Information, Contact the Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey

If you would like more information about clicking or popping noises while you eat or other TMJ disorder issues, contact the team members at the Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey and schedule a personal consultation with Dr. Ivan Stein.