Ask a Dentist

January 13, 2023

Q: My Jaw Clicks When I Chew. What Should I Do?

Woman touching the side of her face while looking uncomfortable

Jaw clicking and other jaw issues can make day-to-day experiences, like eating and talking, uncomfortable or painful.

Jaw clicking is a sign your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) isn’t functioning properly. TMJ is the joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. It helps your mouth open and close. In many cases, TMJ-related symptoms go away on their own.

Some at-home remedies for TMJ discomfort are:

  • Over-the-counter medication for joint and inflammation pain
  • A warm or cold compress
  • Jaw massages
  • Eating soft foods
  • Mindfulness of how wide you open your mouth when talking, eating, yawning, etc.

If your jaw clicking has been going on for months or years, you may have temporomandibular disorder (TMD). TMD causes chronic jaw tenderness, jaw clicking/popping, locked jaw, difficulty chewing, a misaligned bite, headaches or earaches.

TMD can be caused by:

  • Stress
  • Genetics
  • Arthritis
  • Injury to the jaw or teeth
  • Ill-fitting dentures
  • Fingernail or pencil biting

What To Do If You Think You Have TMD

If you’re experiencing any TMD symptoms, you should visit your dentist. They’ll look into your medical history and take the appropriate x-rays to determine a treatment plan. Your dentist may suggest pain medication, a mouthguard to minimize grinding or clenching at night or relaxation techniques to reduce stress. They may also refer you to a physiotherapist, chiropractor or behavioural therapist.

Untreated TMJ disorders can cause long-term pain and discomfort. Visit Dental Image Therapy Centres at St. Vital Centre or Garden City Shopping Centre to discuss the frequency, type and level of pain in your jaw.

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