TMJ Disorder: Why Jaws Shouldn’t Pop

tmj disorderDo you notice that your jaws pop when you open and close your mouth, or that your jaws sometimes lock in an open or closed position, unable to move for a moment or two? For some people, a popping/clicking jaw is little more than an annoyance, while for others, it can be painful enough to make biting a chewing a chore. Either way, popping jaws are often a symptom of TMJ disorder—a jaw dysfunction that could eventually lead to other, more uncomfortable symptoms if not treated.

A Look at Your TMJs

TMJs, or temporomandibular joints, are located on either side of your face, and connect your lower jaw to your skull. Consisting of carefully-positioned disks and cartilage, your jaw joints rely on balance to operate simultaneously and move your jaw smoothly. When too much force is placed on your TMJs, they can become damaged, inflamed, or even forced out of alignment (causing them to shift, or pop, into place when they move).

The Other Symptoms

As you continue to force your jaws open and closed, and subject them to pressure as you bite and chew your food, the damage will grow worse. Besides a popping jaw, other symptoms of TMJ disorder can include;

  • Teeth-Grinding—also known as bruxism, teeth-grinding can be both a symptom of and contributor to TMJ disorder.
  • Tinnitus—persistent, seemingly random ringing and discomfort in the ears, which are located close to your TMJs, can result when your jaw joints and muscles are distressed.
  • Headaches—the trigeminal nerves that travel through and control your mouth and jaw dominate your cranial nerves. When they’re agitated, the pain can manifest as recurring headaches, including migraines.

Treating Your Jaw Dysfunction

If your jaws pop, or if you think you might suffer from TMJ disorder, then we may be able to help you find relief by addressing the causes(s) of your condition. A thorough examination will help us determine what’s wrong, such as crooked or uneven teeth, and find an appropriate treatment to restore your bite’s balance.


Michael J. Young, DDS, and his skilled team of dental care professionals happily serve patients and their families, living in Breaux Bridge, Broussard, Scott, Youngsville, and surrounding communities. To learn more, contact us today at our Lafayette dentist’s office at 337-237-6453.