If your jaw occasionally makes a clicking or popping noise when you open your mouth wide, you may dismiss this as a harmless anomaly. But if these jaw clicking noises happen repeatedly — or if they are accompanied by other symptoms such as discomfort, pain or facial swelling — they may raise deeper concerns about the state of your oral health. At that point, you will probably want to get serious about stopping the noises.
Here, Dr. Ivan Stein and Dr. Allen Stein of Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey discuss some strategies to stop your jaw from clicking or popping.
Limit Big Facial Movements
Big facial movements that stretch your mouth can result in audible jaw clicking. While you work to get the problem under control, limit your facial movements and avoid activities that involve stretching your mouth (including singing, yelling and cheering). Practice keeping your jaw in a relaxed position, with your upper and lower teeth slightly apart.
Another movement that can greatly strain your jaw is chewing gum, so it’s best to avoid gum for a while.
Avoid Hard Foods
Hard, chewy or crunchy foods can trigger jaw clicking. Crusty bread, tough meats and cruciferous vegetables are especially known for aggravating the problem. If your jaw clicking is particularly bad, you may want to temporarily switch to a soft foods-only diet, limiting yourself to options like mashed potatoes, yogurt, smoothies, well-cooked vegetables and scrambled eggs. Try to pick foods that won’t exacerbate your jaw clicking and have plenty of nutritional value.
Learn To Manage Stress
Periods of intense or prolonged stress can strain your jaw and induce or worsen jaw clicking. If you feel very stressed, practice some management techniques, such as deep breathing or a yoga or meditation practice. For some people, journaling or spending more time with friends and family can greatly reduce feelings of stress. When you are less stressed, you put less strain on your jaw muscles that are responsible for the clicking noises.
Consult With the Experts
If these lifestyle changes fail to reduce your jaw clicking and other symptoms, it is time to call the experts at Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey. Drs. Ivan and Allen Stein can determine the underlying cause of the clicking and suggest a lasting solution.
Depending on your case, you could benefit from dental or orthodontic work to resolve problems with your teeth or bite, or the use of a protective night guard.
To request an appointment with the doctors at Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey, please call or email our team today.