Why Does My Jaw Make Grinding Sounds?
Koala® Centers For Sleep & TMJ Disorders is dedicated to helping you fix your jaw-grinding sounds. Our dentists specialize in treating crepitus in the jaw and can help you find relief from these symptoms. We serve patients from all over the USA. Locations in Bloomington IL, Peoria – Dunlap IL, Lafayette IN, Mishawaka IN, Columbia MO, Kansas City MO, El Paso TX, and Wausau WI. For more information call us at one of our clinics today or request an appointment online.
The jaw joint is one of the most complex joints in the human body; it connects the mandible to the temporal bone, enabling a powerful crushing force that allows us to eat hard and chewy foods with ease. Because this joint is so intricate, it can also experience problems such as a grinding or popping sound, either due to wear and tear, injury, or complications from another condition. This grinding or popping sound is known as crepitus and is often caused by damage to the temporomandibular joint.
Why Does My Jaw Make a Grinding Sound?
Jaw grinding, popping or grating sounds are known as crepitus and often accompany pain, soreness, and limited range of motion. There are multiple reasons for crepitus to occur, including:
- Temporomandibular Joint Disorder — Temporomandibular joint disorder, also known as TMD, can cause a popping or grinding sound. It may also include jaw stiffness; locking of the jaw; limited jaw movement; and pain in the jaw, face, or neck.
- Arthritis — When arthritis affects the temporomandibular joint, it can cause popping or grinding. All types of arthritis can lead to TMD; most commonly osteoarthritis is the culprit, but rheumatoid arthritis can also be the cause. It can also result in other symptoms, including joint pain and stiffness; swelling; redness; and poor range of motion.
- Jaw Dislocation or Injury — Facial injuries can dislocate or break the jaw, which can lead to crepitus. Common causes of facial injury include physical trauma to the face; vehicle accidents; sports injuries; industrial accidents; and dental or medical procedures.
- Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS) — Myofascial pain syndrome causes pain in the muscles and fascia, the sheath of connective tissue that covers every muscle. This syndrome can affect any muscle, including those in the jaw, neck, and shoulders. MPS is the most common cause of TMJ discomfort and can often lead to grinding and cracking, as well as: throbbing jaw pain; painful muscle knots (trigger points); jaw muscle tenderness; a poor range of motion in the jaw; headaches; and difficulty sleeping.
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) — OSA increases the chance of developing TMD, and although the connection is unclear, it is thought that the resistance in the airways triggers a stress response that can cause the jaw muscles to clench together.
What causes crepitus in the jaw?
Crepitus may occur as a result of:
- abnormal occlusion
- overcrowding of the teeth
- the pressure of the wisdom teeth
- dislocation of the temporomandibular joint
- excessive tension, stress
- arthritis of the jaw joint
- inflated fillings or orthopedic structures
What doctor do I need to see for jaw-grinding?
Jaw grinding is best treated by a dentist who specializes in treating TMJ disorders. There are several distinct causes of jaw grinding, and a dentist with a specialty in treating this symptom would be able to determine the underlying cause and effectively treat it for long-term relief.
How do you fix a grinding jaw?
There are several treatments available to help fix a grinding jaw. These include:
- Self-care practices
- Physical therapy
- Psychological counseling
- Relaxation techniques
- Oral appliances
- Light massage of joints and muscles
- Local therapeutic ultrasound and electrical stimulation