Jaw Crunching Noise Q&A
Do you often notice a crunching sound in your jaw? Come to Koala® Center For Sleep & TMJ Disorders and get comprehensive treatment from our team. For more information, contact us or visit us online to book an appointment. We have convenient locations across the U.S. in Bloomington IL, Peoria/ Dunlap IL, Mishawaka IN, Kansas City MO, El Paso TX, and Wausau WI.
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Most of us are familiar with the crackling or crunching sound that can come from our joints. In some cases, this is completely normal, but it can also be a sign of tissue damage or another problem. This popping or grating sound is mainly due to cartilage, tendons or ligaments rubbing against one another, and is often the result of an injury or wear and tear to the joint. Medically this sound is called crepitus, or crepitation, and can often affect the jaw joint, or TMJ.
There are several potential causes of clicking and popping sounds coming from the jaw; they range in severity and type. Common causes include:
– Temporomandibular Joint Disorder — The mandible is attached to the skull by the temporomandibular joints on each side of the jaw. There are many muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones involved in the temporomandibular joint’s function. If any one of these parts are damaged, it could lead to pain, limited function and impaired range of motion. Other symptoms of TMD include:
– Limited range of motion of the jaw
– Jaw stiffness
– Locking of the jaw
– Pain in the jaw area
– Pain in side of the face or neck
– Arthritis — The jaw joint can be subjected to arthritis when it is too damaged, which causes inflammation. All types of arthritis, including the most common, osteoarthritis, can result in TMD; rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disease that attacks the body) can also lead to pain and clicking sounds of the jaw, and is a common culprit of TMJ disorder.
– Trauma That Leads To Injury (Jaw Dislocation) — The jaw joint can break or dislocate from injuries to the face and head. A broken jaw refers to the cracking (or fracturing) of the jawbone, while dislocation happens when the jaw joint moves out of its place. The common causes of facial injury include: sports injuries; vehicular accidents; dental or medical procedures; physical trauma to the face; and industrial accidents.
– Myofascial Pain Syndrome — Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) is a chronic condition that affects the connective tissues covering the muscles, known as the fascia. The syndrome refers to the inflammation and pain in the body’s soft tissues, either in a single muscle or group of muscles, such as the neck, shoulder, and jaw.
– Obstructive Sleep Apnea — There is a good chance you can develop pain and clicking sounds in your jaw if your breathing repeatedly stops during sleep. This condition is known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which occurs when the airways are blocked and airflow is obstructed. While the connection is unclear, OSA increases the risk of developing TMD, which is likely connected to the stress response in the body triggered by lack of oxygen.
If you are hearing a crunching, grating or clicking sound in your jaw, it is imperative to see a doctor as soon as possible. The sooner treatment begins, the better the chances are of restoring the physiologically correct function of the TMJ, all without having to rely on interventional methods such as surgery.
Tips to help stop jaw crunching include:
– Eat only soft or mashed foods
– Apply a cold and a warm compress
– Do not open your mouth wide
– Avoid sudden movements of the lower jaw
– Massage the joint (closer to the ear)
Yes, TMJ disorder can go away on its own, but this typically only happens in mild cases. In moderate to severe cases, professional medical intervention is almost always needed.
If you hear a crunching sound in your jaw, come to Koala® Centers For Sleep & TMJ Disorders to find relief. We serve patients from all across the United States, and currently have seven locations: one in El Paso, TX; one in Wausau, WI; one in Kansas City, MO; one in Mishawaka, IN; one in Bloomington, IL; and one in Peoria – Dunlap, IL. Schedule an appointment at any of our locations today to receive top-level care from experienced TMJ disorder specialists. We look forward to serving you!