We have many patients that ask us about a click they have noticed in their jaw joint when it opens and closes. Is this something to worry about?
Approximately 33% of people aged 18-55 have some sort of click in their jaw joint. This click is caused by the cartilage disc in the jaw joint (between the upper and lower jaw) which pops in and out of place in some people that have more lax/stretchy ligaments.
What causes clicking joints:
- Repetitive “microtrauma” or stress to the joint: such as clenching, grinding, or other habits like cheek biting etc.
- A “macrotrauma”: a blow to the joint, such as a sports injury or car accident.
Most clicks from microtrauma’s are asymptomatic, but we still want to reduce or avoid the things that make the jaw joint click such as clenching, cheek biting, any hard/sticky foods or any food that requires opening really wide (such as a big sandwich or burger!) because this can make it worse and lead to limited jaw opening and painful joints.
Other treatments that may be recommended depending on the situation are stretches, medications (steroid or anti-inflammatory), a stabilization splint, and icing the joint 3-4 times daily for 15-20 min. Think of this like any other joint injury… they need a little rest and TLC!
For more in-depth information on what causes clicking joints, here is a video on this subject: http://oasisdiscussions.ca/2019/05/21/clicking-jaw-whats-with-that/