A few days ago I went to the dentist and the surprising news he gave me had nothing to do with my teeth, but it was correlated. The appointment was coming to an end, but he wanted me to do a bite test so he could see the alignment of my teeth for future reference. He put some wax over the bottom teeth and asked me to bite down, shift to the left, shift to the right, forward, and backward. He was pleased with my alignment but asked if that was normal. I replied back, is what normal? He said that my temporomandibular joint(TMJ) was popping when my mouth moved to the left with a significant motion. I told him that last fall when I was playing lacrosse I got hit in the side of the helmet and ever since it had popped like that, it didn’t hurt so I just thought that it was dislocated and there was nothing I could do to fix it. From time to time, whenever I would eat it would sound like someone squishing Jell-O in their hand. He said that the cartilage that’s in-between that joint and the temporal bone can be worn down over time with that motion and it could become very painful after the cartilage is gone. He told me that there was no surgical solution and to not make that become a habit.
Your mouth is one of the most active parts of your body on a daily basis. The temporomandibular joint connects your mandible (lower jaw) to the temporal bone (cheek bone) and its motion range from up and down, to left and right, and side to side. This joint allows you to chew, speak, and let out that yawn you have before your 8am. The three main causes of temporomandibular damage (TMD) are dislocation, trauma, and damage to the cartilage disc. The habit that is most common that pertains to the damage of the disc is grinding of the teeth. Men and women have different joint forms and researchers have discovered that TMD is more common in women, their hormones can also be a factor of TMD.
Symptoms of TMD are simple, it hurts. Since the jaw is such an active bone in the body, it incurs a lot of action on the daily such as chewing. When chewing is traumatic enough on the joint a dislocation can cause it much more stress since it is moving a lot more. Depending on the person condition the pain alters, it can be grueling or it could not hurt whatsoever, either way dentist recommends to make an appointment as soon as possible.
There are many solutions into relieving TMD, doctors recommend your solution to be low-key instead of surgically repairing it. For patients who suffer from the habit of grinding their teeth, a custom night guard is an easy solution to this problem. If you don’t suffer from TMD, but still have a clicking or popping sound of your jaw there are plenty of treatments that are easy and assessable. Staying away from harder foods that put more stress on your jaw and choosing to either apply ice or heat for a period of time are just two ways to reduce the risk of temporomandibular damage.
Pelis, Donna. “When a Clicking Jaw Is a Sign of TMD – Colgate® Oral Care.” When a Clicking Jaw Is a Sign of TMD. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2016. http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/conditions/temporomandibular-disorder/article/when-a-clicking-jaw-is-a-sign-of-tmd-1215