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Why is my jaw popping?

Many patients come in with jaw instability, or popping of their jaw joint. Some ignore the problem for a long time because it often is NOT painful, just uncomfortable. This can sometimes lead to the jaw locking, or the inability to eat chewy foods, or even interfere with kissing! At the very least it's annoying and leads to tension and an uncomfortable feeling, at worse it can cause alot of pain and be quite debilitating! It's easy to understand why so many people google, "Why is my jaw popping?!"

So what is happening when your jaw pops? The jaw bone sits on a small disc that rests between the jaw bone (mandible) and your skull (at the temporal bone). When you want to open, the jaw bone rotate on that disc, then as you open further, it rides that disc forward. When the jaw bone is partially off of, or completely off of that disc, and you go to open your mouth, that is when the "POP" can often occur. One side gets caught halfway or all the way off the disc, and as the other side attempts to open normally, the dysfunctional side is finally pulled back onto the disc as you continue to open. When the condyle "pops" back into the disc, it is often loud and noticeable.

How does this happen? It is often a result or poor occlusion, tongue restriction, misaligned in your upper neck, cranial strain, and/or cranial underdevelopment. We will go into these issues in different blogs, but know that it is treatable. It can lead to increased wear and tear of the jaw joint, which can lead to pain. It's easier to fix if it's assessed and treated by the right person quickly after it starts making the "pop", but can be treated later as well.

So the answer to "Why is my jaw popping?" is, the condyle of the jaw bone is popping back onto the disc! Once you close, it slips off again, only to pop back on it again once you open wide enough.

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