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Face and Jaw Surgery

Jaw popping

09/28/2007

Question:

Mine is a lttle different than other questions asked. My jaw pops on the right side every single time I open or shut my mouth. This has been happening for a few years with recently it getting worse. more annoying and painful at times. I am completely healthy and have never had any health problems...What can this be and does it require any surgery, will it get worse? Thank you so much.

Answer:

Your history suggests a dislocated disc in the right jaw joint. The jaw joint (Temporomandibular joint or TMJ) has a cartilage disc between the articulating surface of skull bone and the lower jawbone. This small piece of cartilage acts as padding between these bones which (the disk) can wear or displace due to use. This disc can be displaced when the mouth is opened very wide or when there is injury or force to the jaw. That can include chewing hard food.

The snapping or popping noise is the most common symptom of jaw joint. It occurs when the cartilage in your jaw joint is in the forward position, which causes the ball to rub against cartilage during opening and closing of the mouth. In a few people, it may be associated with pain or discomfort. This can be confirmed with MRI scans of the TMJ.

The clicking and popping of a TMJ without associated symptoms usually is not an indication for any type of treatment, nor is it a predictor of future problems

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Response by:

Likith V Reddy, MD, DDS, FACS Likith V Reddy, MD, DDS, FACS
Formerly:
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati