Why do some jaw joints click?
The jaw (or TMJ for Temporo Mandibular Joint) is frequently unacknowledged as a source of pain in many head, neck, face, and vocal conditions. People who experience headaches, motor vehicle accidents, sport or work site injuries, often have jaw issues that can accumulate to overwhelming levels.
Clenching the teeth is a very common habit during sleep, while concentrating, or from stress. This often results in an accumulation of both compressive forces in the joints and asymmetrical muscle tightness which can lead to clicking, pain and ultimately joint damage.
Resolving the joint compression and muscular tightness can re-pattern the jaw mechanics and save pain and difficulties decades later.
The jaw is exceptional in that it operates as two separate joints bound together by one bone – the mandible. The muscles responsible for moving the joints work in tandem with how the teeth fit together (occlusion), along with the fit and movement of the cranial bones, creating a system of interrelated mechanics.
All is well when the jaw joints work within functional symmetry, but if one side begins to move differently many compensatory patterns can begin. These adaptive movements can be the beginning of a vicious cycle where some tissues are overworked and eventually become compromised.
A special friction-reducing disc exists inside the joint much like the discs in the spine. The disc maintains the appropriate amount of space in the joint, and moves forward and back in co-ordination with the opening and closing of the mouth. Joint compression and muscle tightness often accumulate resulting in an abnormally forward disc position. Then, as the jaw bone moves, the disc bunches up like a speed bump on the road, producing a click. If left untreated disc perforation can result, leaving the joint vulnerable to pain and arthritis.