Wrong. Jaw popping and clicking is a sign that the cushioning disk in your jaw joint has been displaced, but pops back into place again. When the popping and clicking goes away spontaneously, it’s not because the disk has found its way back in place, it’s because the disk is no longer slipping back into place, and you’re likely about to experience much more serious symptoms of TMJ.

What Causes the Popping and Clicking?

The jaw popping and clicking is a symptom of what is called disk displacement with reduction. This occurs when the disk that is supposed to cushion between the bones in the jaw joint slips out of place. As the jaw opens, it reaches a point where the disk can slip into place, which causes the popping sound and often an irregular motion of the jaw.

Why the Popping Stops — and What Comes Next

The popping stops when the displaced disk is no longer able to slip back into place. Instead, it rides in front of the joint and interferes with your ability to open your jaw. You might not notice the interference at first, until one day you find that you can only open your jaw slightly.

Many people actually wake up and realize they can’t open their jaw at all, a condition known as lockjaw. This is terrifying, and you might be tempted to try to force your jaw open. It’s often possible to force your jaw open, but if you do, it will cause more damage to your jaw joints, so that the only treatment option will be surgery.

Getting Treatment Before or After Lockjaw

If you notice popping or clicking in your jaw joint, don’t ignore or dismiss it. It is a serious condition that will likely only get worse. The sooner you can get help, the better. Your TMJ treatment at this stage will be much less invasive and much more successful.

When your jaw popping stops, understand that it’s a sign that your condition is getting worse, and seek treatment immediately.

If you have experienced lockjaw, seeing a doctor without the proper training can be as bad as forcing the jaw open yourself. Make sure the healthcare professional you see knows how to properly release a locked jaw.

If you are looking for help with popping, clicking, or other TMJ symptoms in Detroit, please call (248) 480-0085 for an appointment with a TMJ dentist at the Michigan Center for TMJ & Sleep Wellness.