The popping or clicking in your ear that happens when you open your jaw may or may not come with pain, but it is likely a warning sign of a more significant issue with your jaw joints, called temporomandibular joints (TMJ). TMJ disorders (TMD) come with a variety of symptoms that are overlooked until you meet with a TMJ dentist, such as earaches, neck and shoulder pain, difficulty chewing and a ringing in the ears (to name a few).
The Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey specializes in jaw joint problems and the endless list of painful symptoms TMJ dysfunction causes in one in 10 Americans.
What Causes the Jaw to Pop?
The TMJs hinge your skull and jaw together, and they allow you to speak, yawn and eat. These joints wrap around two bones — the temporal bone and condyle bone — by your ear canal and are separated by a fibrous disk. They’re housed in a capsule and lined with fibrocartilage, a combination of fibrous and cartilage tissues that is both inflexible and elastic, which helps the joint remodel itself.
When there’s inflammation, injury or disease (such as osteoarthritis) in the TMJ, it causes a cascade of issues that lead to pain. There may be abnormal movement between the disk and bones, causing the fibrous disk to slip forward and make that popping and clicking you hear as the bone moves over the disk. This problem can progress and cause the jaw to lock, making it challenging to open your mouth wide enough to eat. Muscle spasms, splinting and inflammation occur, and you can experience dull pain and tenderness where the TMJs live on either side of your jaw near your ears.
You may not think that popping, clicking or grating sound in your jaw is worth investigating, but it could be the beginning of a larger problem that is linked to other face and body issues you experience, including:
- Non-infectious sore throat
- Balance issues
- Hearing loss
- Sinus pain
- Eye pain
- Blurry vision
- Difficulty swallowing
- Uncontrollable jaw movements
- Difficulty chewing
- Muscle stiffness in the back, shoulders, neck and face
- Buzzing in the ears
Treatments for Popping Jaw
The best way to treat your popping jaw depends on the type and severity of your TMJ disorder. Our New Jersey TMJ dentists offer several treatments to alleviate TMD symptoms. Orthotic therapy can improve muscle spasms using a customized dental appliance that relaxes the jaw position. Ultrasound therapy breaks up adhesions and scar tissue in the muscles and tissues to restore blood flow. Microcurrent therapy uses low electrical currents to relax the muscle and reduce pain. We also offer low-level laser therapy to decrease pain and inflammation, Botox therapy and intramuscular injection therapy.
Schedule Your TMJ Evaluation
Contact the Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey to schedule your evaluation with our specialists and discuss your TMD symptoms.