Tooth Tips | Jaw Pain, Stiffness & Clicking: TMJ 101

If you experience pain, stiffness, or clicking in the jaw, you may have a temporomandibular joint disorder.

woman with pained expression with hand on jaw


Do you experience pain or discomfort in and around your jaw? Maybe even some clicking and popping when you open your mouth? If so, you might have a problem with your temporomandibular joints.

The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are the 2 joints that connect your lower jaw to your skull. Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) refers to a variety of conditions that cause pain and
dysfunction in the jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement. These issues can often be tied to a displacement of the disc that acts as a cushion between the skull and lower jaw.

Here are some core symptoms:

  • Pain, tenderness, or discomfort in the jaw
  • Pain in one or both of your temporomandibular joints
  • Pain radiating to the neck and head
  • Aching pain in the face and/or ear
  • Difficulty chewing or speaking
  • Clicking, popping, crackling in the jaw area while chewing or speaking
  • Tinnitus (ringing in ear)
  • Facial stiffness
  • Limited range of motion
  • Lockjaw

Potential Causes of TMD

The exact cause of a TMD flare-up can be difficult to pinpoint, but factors such as jaw injuries and arthritis can sometimes play a role. Bruxism (teeth clenching and grinding) is also tied to TMD, as are head/neck tension and a misaligned bite.

Potential Solutions

There are certain self-applied treatments that can alleviate TMD symptoms, such as facial exercises and trigger point massages that help alleviate pain and increase jaw mobility. Stress management, avoiding tough-to-chew foods, posture training, physical therapy, and heat packs are also known to provide relief depending on the cause and nature of a TMD case.

In some cases, a trip to the dentist is paramount, as prescriptions for muscle relaxants or a dental splint may be necessary. In even more extreme cases, surgery may be required. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, reach out to your dentist to find out what treatment is best for you.

955 boul. Saint-Jean #302, Pointe-Claire, QC H9R 5K3

514.694.8880  |  PUR.CA


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