Q. I am having jaw popping with catch. Why?

Answered by
Dr. Beryl Fredrick
and medically reviewed by Dr. Divya Banu M
This is a premium question & answer published on Feb 03, 2020

Hello doctor,

I have a question about TMJ catching and popping. About ten days ago, my right jaw suddenly began catching and popping with a great deal of pain at the time of the pop. Since then, the pain when the pop occurs has diminished quite a bit, but the right side of the jaw still catches each time I close the mouth. It does not catch when opening. Also, when it catches, or pops, my lower teeth do a quick shift, then return to center. My question is, does the quick shift suggest a cause for the TMD I am experiencing?



Welcome to icliniq.com.

I have gone through your query and understand your concern. This shift in your lower teeth could not be a cause for your TMD. Temporo Mandibular joint is the jaw joint between upper jaw and lower jaw and involves multiple and complex structures like a disc between two jaws, chewing muscles, and the joining bone structure. A complete TMJ and dental evaluation should be done to determine what is causing your jaw popping, swelling and clenching habit. Jaw clenching (Bruxism) is not a condition but one of the main symptoms of a TMJ disorder. TMD could be because of:

1. Tensed chewing muscles.

2. Disparity in the disc.

3.. Changes in jaw bone structure.

Other than TMJ issues,

4. Psycological stress.

5. Misaligned or attrited (worn-out) teeth.

6. Multiple dental treatments or multiple missing teeth.

7. Recent dental injury or infection.

8. Recent hospitalization.

General health conditions or systemic diseases affecting bone like arthritis could also cause TMD.

Visit a TMJ specialist to identify what has caused your jaw swelling. From your query and the details provided regarding the panaromic x-ray (OPG), the cause should probably be the change in your jaw bone structure due to the advancing age and long term medicines intake. It could also be from the psychological stress (if) from the recent hospitalization and surgery. This psychological stress or an underlying bone disparity could have triggered a subconscious level jaw clenching thereby causing a tension in your chewing muscles leading to a muscle swelling in your jaw.

Initially a muscle relaxant will be prescribed to bring down the tensed jaw muscles and the swelling. After which a complete TMJ evaluation and X-ray study will be done to pinpoint the cause. A splint similar to a night guard (called deprogrammer appliance) will probably be suggested as a diagnostic appliance to identify the cause and to protect the teeth from getting attrited during jaw clenching. Once the cause is determined, the treatment is targeted right at it.

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