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Is a clicking jaw a bad thing? Should I do something about it?

A clicking jaw is officially called a disc dislocation with reduction. The jaw joint has a superior and inferior joint. These joints are separated by a disc. This disc is held onto the jaw bone by ligaments and blood supply that helps it stay over the jaw bone during movement.

A side profile of a skull and musculature demonstrating the alignment and orientation of the bones and the disc of the TMJ
Normal TMJ

A click without pain or changes in function such as speaking, eating, sleeping, etc. is not something that is considered an injury or pathological. Current literature says that clicking is not dysfunction. A jaw joint becomes dysfunctional when the clicking stops and you get stuck. This is called a locking jaw or disc dislocation without reduction. When episodes of locking occur, it is time to seek professional assistance with the jaw. The locking may cause pain in the joint. The distress of not being able to open your mouth may be come strong as well. Daily tasks such as speaking, eating, brushing teeth, etc may be painful and limited. Who do you reach out to for help when you have a locked jaw? This is normally your Dentist and a specialized Craniofacial Physical Therapist. The Dentist may assist with medication and a quick splint therapy while your Physical Therapist is going to assist with muscle relaxation, assisting with joint positioning, and exercises to help free the disc as well allowing you to open and then hopefully keep the disc in a more stable position to reduce the locking.

Picture of therapy hands working on the TMJ muscles with a hand inside of the mouth

Therapy can be very effective with proper education and techniques to help you reduce the disc back to its place especially early after the lock. The longer you wait for treatment the more difficult it can be to correct. Education will assist you with ways to reduce the likelihood of the locking, decrease the pressure into the disc for clicking, and help you overall reduce the

probability of other issues of the neck and jaw. All physical therapy is not the same, and Craniofacial Physical Therapy is a highly trained speciality that is required for comprehensive treatment of the TMJ. Call your Craniofacial Specialist if you are having locking or difficulty with opening your mouth. (Photo:

Picture of Dr. Erienne Blanchard in front of the American Academy of Orofacial Pain Posture as she is a member and continuing learner
American Academy of Orofacial Pain Specialist

A click isn't a worrisome thing unless it prevents you from doing your daily tasks and locks you from fully opening. A click may have postural deficits that can be addressed before the click becomes something more. This is something your Craniofacial Specialists can help with. Give me a call today to investigate if we can help you prevent any future issues or stop your current ones. I would love to partner with you to change your life for the better.

Call or Text: 352-727-0472.

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