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

dark haired woman massaging her jaw due to pain

Why Does My Jaw Click or Pop?

There are actually quite a few different possible causes of why your jaw clicks or pops. Knowing what causes yours can help you seek the right treatment.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome

For instance, myofascial pain syndrome, a chronic pain disorder, causes the trigger points of certain jaw muscles to experience pain. This usually occurs in muscles that regularly contract. If Myofascial pain syndrome occurs in the jaw, it can lead to clicking or popping.


When your teeth aren’t aligned correctly, it’s known as malocclusion. Malocclusion includes overbites, underbites, and crossbites. Malocclusion can cause jaw popping or clicking and usually requires professional orthodontic treatment.


If the glands of your mouth have an infection, it can cause your jaw to pop. Other signs of an infection include inflammation, facial pain, dry mouth, and an unpleasant taste in the mouth. Fortunately, after taking antibiotics, your clicking and popping should go away.


If a tumor develops in any area of your mouth, it can disrupt the movement of your jaw. As a result, your jaw will start popping or clicking. After the removal of the tumor, the clicking and popping should subside.

Sleep Apnea

Another common cause of jaw clicking and popping is sleep apnea which is a common sleep disorder that causes pauses in breathing during sleep. Both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea can cause the jaw to pop or click. If you experience daytime sleepiness, snoring whenever you sleep, or frequent headaches, you might have sleep apnea. It’s important to take a sleep test and get treatment as soon as possible if you do because sleep apnea can increase your risk of certain health conditions like heart disease.


Temporomandibular joint disorder is a disorder that affects the jaw joint and can cause clicking and popping in addition to many other symptoms. Some of these include frequent headaches, jaw pain, neck pain, facial pain, and more. The jaw popping and clicking is a symptom of what is called disc displacement with reduction. This occurs when the disc 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 disc 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

If you’re wondering “how do you get your jaw to stop popping?”, it’s important to know why it stops popping in the first place. The popping stops when the displaced disc 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 TMJ Treatment in Detroit, MI 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.