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Why Does My Jaw Pop?

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Do you ever have difficulty in eating, tenderness in your face, neck, and jaw? Or perhaps a restraint in opening your mouth wide, toothache and headaches?

And do you ever wish that you could get rid of this problem? If you answered yes to these questions, you are likely suffering from a jaw-popping problem.

The good news is, you can be free from your jaw popping and the pains that come with it by following simple lifestyle changes.

Before diving into some details about jaw popping, let us look at the five likely reasons your jaw pops.

What Are The Causes Of Jaw Popping?

There are several reasons your jaw makes the popping sound with its painful symptoms. If you’ve ever experienced any of of the following, it could be the reason for the popping sensation you feel in your jaw:

Broken and dislocated joints

A physical assault on the face, hitting your jaw, vehicle accidents, or sports injuries are some of the likely causes of broken and dislocated joints. A dislocation occurs when the jaw joints become loose and unhinged after it undergoes physical trauma.

With a broken joint, you feel numbness, swelling, bleeding, and bruising. You should clean and treat the affected immediately to avoid infection and inflammation.

Myofascial Pain Syndrome

MPS is accompanied by pain in the musculoskeletal system, this comprises bones, muscles, ligaments, tissues, joints, and tendons responsible for maintaining the body’s form and movement.

People with myofascial pain syndrome develop trigger points. These pints are so sensitive that they can cause pain when pressure is applied. MPS can exist anywhere in the body, even around your jaw or face, and cause your jaw to pop.

Sleep Apnea

Centra Sleep Apnea and Obstructive Sleep Apnea may trigger your jaw to pop. OSA is an involuntary process that limits airflow during sleep because of narrowness in the throat.

It restricts the air flowing to the lungs and leads to a sudden awakening from sleep. Symptoms of OSA and CSA include snoring, daytime sleepiness and fatigue, headache, depression.


Infections in the parotid glands of each cheek, the submandibular gland below your jawline, and the sublingual glands underneath your tongue can lead to TMD.

Besides jaw popping, other associated symptoms are dry mouth, facial pain, and swelling, pain and swelling in the neck, pus in the mouth.


Tumors in the lips, cheek, gums, hard and soft palate, or mouth floor may develop into oral cancer. The tumor affects jaw movement and affected patients are more likely to feel jaw pops.

What Is Jaw Popping?

Jaw popping is a clicking sound in the jaw mostly prevalent when yawning, talking, chewing, or eating. It is often accompanied by painful sensations. This condition is caused by dislocation, physical trauma, stress, and medical health problems.

Jaw popping is a sensation characterized by pain and dysfunction in the temporomandibular joints. These joints are found in the jaw, connecting the jawbone to the skull.

The joints and muscles are charged with the responsibility of chewing, talking, and yawning. A disorder of the internal or external parts of the joints can cause the limited function of the jaw along with jaw popping.

The temporomandibular joints differ from other joints in the body. It connects the mandible in the lower jaw to the temporal bone at the side of the head.

An inflammation or disorder occurs when there is extreme pressure or tension on these joints, leading to overstretched regions, pain and discomfort in the affected area, distress, headache, bruxism, restricted jaw movement.

When the jaw joints do not work properly, it may cause a mild or severe case of dysfunction. Sometimes, physical trauma or a blow to the jaw area may be the cause.

It may also be because of accidents or fights. There are certain medical health issues and unhealthy lifestyle changes that can trigger this condition.

Is It Normal To Have Your Jaw Pop?

Usually, jaw popping is temporary and can be treated with home remedies and lifestyle changes. However, patients may experience persistent and severe jaw popping that worsens with time.

It is sometimes normal to have your jaw pop. You are more likely to experience it after a dental appointment, toothache, physical blow to the face or surrounding areas. In cases like this, symptoms are usually short-lived and responsive to home remedies and lifestyle changes.

Although, not every jaw pain and popping is a serious condition. Some are chronic issues that may exist from dental appointments, birth deformities, accidents, or jaw joint disorders.

A typical severe jaw popping usually develops debilitating pain and discomfort that affects functionality and well-being. It causes sleep disturbances, headaches, and a limited range of movement in affected areas.

Depending on the patient and level of severity, it may require medications to manage the pain, surgery, implants, or tooth removal in dental problems.

Types Of Jaw Popping

Having your jaw constantly pop can be unnerving, most especially when this occurs frequently, with abnormal sounds.

Patients mostly report 2 types of jaw popping. The first is when your mouth is opened or stretched almost at its widest, such as during a deep yawn. This may not necessarily be a sign of severity, however, it can overstrain and hyperextend the joints and connecting tissues.

Your jaw joints can be strained to a point where it just “pops” because of the stress and pressure put on it. Although this can dissipate on its own, a continual occurrence is more likely to cause serious damage.

Another jaw pop experienced by patients is the TMD type. This is a serious case that affects talking, chewing, or opening the mouth. Unlike mild jaw popping, it is caused by a dysfunction of the jaw joints.

This is a more severe condition that may sometimes signal and trigger serious underlying medical health problems like sleep apnea, stress, and misalignment of the affected joints.

Signs Of Jaw Popping

There are different causes of jaw popping with separate symptoms related to each condition. However, the most common signs of jaw popping include:

Eating difficulty- It gets harder to eat. Swelling may occur, causing discomfort and pain more prevalent with hard foods.

Tenderness in the face or jaw- Mostly develops because of sensitivity in the affected parts. It may also become irritating.

Limited range of function, including difficulty, widely yawning, opening, and closing the mouth

Ache – Toothache, and headache are more likely to occur. Migraines are the most common type of headaches to exist with jaw popping

Headache – Stress, anxiety, discomfort, and pain affect your medical health and wellbeing.

Neck or earache – The ear, eye, and nervous systems of the body are all connected. They transmit signals to help the body’s movement function. A disorder in the jaw tissues.

Factors That Contribute To Jaw Popping

There are certain factors that contribute to or increase your risk of developing jaw popping. Often linked to behaviors, they are.


Bruxism is more common during stress. Most individuals exhibit various habits when stressed, such as teeth grinding and jaw clenching.


This is an unhealthy behavior with multiple side effects. Not only are dirt and germs transferred from the nails to the mouth and vice versa, but a continuous repeat of these strains and over also extends the connective joints.

Treatment For Jaw Popping

Depending on the cause of your jaw popping, onset, duration, the severity of pain, other associated symptoms, and underlying medical conditions. Professional diagnosis and intervention are required for proper treatment.


Non anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants, or anti-anxiety drugs are usually prescribed by a doctor or dentist to manage and relieve pain and discomfort.

Dental Work

Not all jaw popping is caused by TMD. Some are associated with a toothache or dental problems. Overbites and under-bites may be used with other dental procedures to reduce jaw popping.


The mouthpiece includes splints or a night guard to manage teeth grinding or clenching. These devices are worn over the teeth to prevent upper and lower teeth from fitting together.


Surgery is not always the last option. It is only required when there are complications or serious damage, like misalignment of the joints. It is usually done depending on the underlying cause and after a diagnosis. Visit your health center or doctor for the best suitable option available for you.

Home remedies

These at-home treatments are easy to do and require little or no stress.

Warm / Cold Compress

  • Applying heat and ice packs helps ease the pain
  • Avoid hard or crunchy food so you do not trigger sensitive points
  • Relax the jaw, practice jaw exercises, and incorporate them into your daily routines
  • Stop overextending and overworking the jaw and surrounding joints
  • Practice Stress management and self-care practices
  • Keep good posture, it helps reduce and avoid facial misalignment
  • Physical therapy for facial neck and jaw strain

How To Stop Jaw Popping And Locking

Now that you know why your jaw pops and locks, as well as the symptoms experienced. Here are some ways to deal with it.

Pay close attention to your movements

During your jaw popping and locking, you may notice how often and when the symptoms begin. Be careful so as not to make rash or sudden movements like snapping your mouth open or close.

Relieve Jaw Pressure

Relax your jaw joints and teeth as much as possible, avoid clenching your teeth by slightly keeping them apart. You may practice simple jaw exercises or gently massage these areas in a circular motion.

Watch Your Posture

Having a good posture can improve your joint disorders and ease the pain. Merging basic exercises and good posture into your routines can relieve knots and tension in your jaw, teeth, face, neck.

Check What You Eat

An inflamed or dysfunctional joint is prone to sensitivity and tenderness. Stick to softer foods and avoid hard, chewy or crunchy types.

Seek Professional Help

Sometimes a popping and locking jaw is a sign of a serious problem. Regardless of the case, contact your doctor as soon as you notice complications or a spike in severity.

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