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Why Does My Jaw Pop When I Chew?

You've probably noticed it before – that subtle, sometimes not-so-subtle, pop or click in your jaw when you're enjoying a meal. It might be a regular occurrence or an occasional annoyance, but chances are you’ve wondered why it pops at all.

There are many reasons 一 such as malocclusion and TMJ disorders 一 your jaw might pop when you chew. Because the solutions can vary depending on the cause, Dr. David Blaustein encourages you to visit us here at Chelsea Dental Aesthetics to get the right treatment.

In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about your jaw, why it pops, and what you can do about it.

Anatomy of your jaw

Your jaw joint, officially known as the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), is a complex joint that connects your lower jaw with your skull. It consists of several parts, including:

It’s a joint that facilitates complex movements needed for speaking, yawning, and chewing. Your jaw can move up and down but also side to side. 

When you chew, the joint undergoes a series of intricate motions involving muscles, ligaments, and a disc that acts as a cushion. Anything that interferes with this complex process can lead to pain, clicking, or popping.

Reasons your jaw pops when you chew

The only way to know for sure what’s causing your jaw discomfort is an exam and a review of your symptoms. Potential culprits include:

Popping air bubbles

One common reason for that audible pop is air bubbles in the synovial fluid within your TMJ. This fluid helps lubricate the joint and allows for smooth movements. However, if air gets trapped in the fluid or joint space, it can create a sound when the jaw moves.

Misalignment issues

Sometimes, jaw popping is due to misalignment or issues with the disc within the TMJ. If the disc doesn't move smoothly, or the jaw is misaligned during movement, you may experience those unexpected sounds.

This misalignment has various causes, such as teeth grinding (bruxism), jaw clenching, or even trauma.

Arthritis

Arthritis is an inflammatory condition that can affect any joint, including your jaw. Arthritis in your jaw can also play a role in jaw popping. Many types of arthritis can affect the jaw, and each has different causes and requires different treatment.

Stress

Stress wreaks havoc on your entire body, and unconscious jaw clenching might be one result. This constant tension can contribute to TMJ issues and lead to popping sounds during activities like chewing.

Managing stress through relaxation techniques or seeking professional mental health help can positively impact your jaw health.

Get the dental care you need

Occasional jaw popping might not be a cause for concern, but persistent issues or discomfort should prompt a visit to our Manhattan office. 

The Chelsea Dental Aesthetics team can help identify the underlying causes and recommend appropriate solutions, which may include lifestyle changes, exercises, or in some cases, medical interventions. 

Depending on your needs, Dr. Blaustein may recommend:

To find out what’s causing your jaw to pop, call our New York City office at 917-200-0219 today or request your appointment online.

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