Is it normal for my jaw to CLICK – NO!!
Many clients come to see me at the clinic and have no or little jaw pain, but have an annoying click in their jaw. This can happen at random times, or with eating, talking, yawning etc. And most of these people don’t have any pain when it happens.
It is NOT normal, and yes you need Jaw Physio! WHY? I hear you say.
It is usually due to some disruption of the joint surface, may that be;
- Cartilage (meniscus) damage; a little flap of cartilage that has eroded or been damaged with trauma and in now curling up at the edges and stopping the joint from moving gently and easily, or clenching / grinding teeth, or even weaker cartilage which is a genetic trait.
- Jaw disc bulge; again this can just happen over time with all the pressure of eating and talking so much over the years, or by trauma, or excessive chewing (i.e chewing gum), or clenching / grinding teeth.
- Weak loose disc post lamina fibres; these are the fibres that hold the disc in place and can be stretched so that the disc moves too much and stops the joint working as smoothly as it once did. Maybe you locked your jaw once and forced it open, this will stretch those fibres. Or having a very swollen disc bulge and receiving the wrong therapy at the wrong time, i.e. encouraging movement when the disc bulge is in an acute period (initial stage) and active jaw moments are encouraged. It will over stretch the post lamina fibres and leave you with a clicking or locking jaw or painful jaw.
- Joint line damage; so arthritic changes to the shape of the joint with time from clenching / grinding, talking too much, screaming at children all day!?, many other reasons (age, weak DNA bone structure, arthritis etc.).
How to prevent clicking:
- Don’t chew gum
- Chew on both sides of your mouth equally
- Don’t talk a lot! Or with lots of animation – i.e. try not to use all of your neck muscles and facial muscles, remain calm when talking!
- Use a mouth guard with sports
- Keep your head on your head rest in the car – better spinal positioning stops the neck muscles tightening in odd positions.
- Every 30 min check your head position when sitting, i.e. is it on top of your shoulders, rather than poked forward trying to read your computer screen. Better spinal positioning stops the neck muscles tightening in odd positions.
When it is a mild click with no pain, it is usually simple and only needs a few sessions to correct. The more frequently it clicks, then develops pain and then starts to lock, you will obviously need more treatments.
It is very rare for the clicking to go away by itself, as the jaw muscles spasm to try and protect this movement and end up tightening in an asymmetrical pattern (i.e. tighter muscles on one side of the jaw). So not only does the joint movement have to be encouraged to glide along the path of least resistance with no pain or clicking, but the muscles have to work equally and symmetrically as both jaws work as one.
If you’re not sure, feel free to ring Leigh on 9315 3855 and ask her what you can do, or whether you need treatment.
You don’t need a referral from your doctor to see Leigh, call for an appointment on 9315 3855. See www.jawphysio.com.au for more information.