Jaw Clicking When Chewing: Understanding Causes and Solutions

Jan 04, 2024

Have you ever experienced a clicking or popping sound in your jaw while chewing? It may seem like a minor annoyance, but jaw clicking when chewing can indicate an underlying issue with your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This particular blog post will delve into the causes of jaw clicking, discuss common symptoms associated with it, and provide you with some effective solutions and preventive measures. So, let’s unravel the mystery behind jaw-clicking when chewing and find ways to address this common problem.

What Causes Jaw Clicking When Chewing?

Before we delve into the causes of jaw clicking, it’s essential to understand the role of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The TMJ is a hinge joint that links your jawbone to your skull, permitting you to open and close your mouth. When this joint is not operating properly, it can result in jaw clicking when chewing. Here are some of the common causes:

  • Misalignment of the jaw: If your jaw is not aligned correctly, it can put extra tension on the TMJ, leading to clicking sounds.
  • Arthritis: Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can impact the TMJ, causing inflammation, pain, and clicking noises.
  • TMJ disorders: Conditions like temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) or myofascial pain syndrome can result in jaw clicking, along with other symptoms like jaw pain, headaches, and muscle stiffness.
  • Injury or trauma: An exact blow to the jaw or sudden impact can damage the TMJ, resulting in jaw clicking.
  • Bruxism: Teeth grinding or clenching, known as bruxism, can strain the TMJ and cause it to click when chewing.

It’s important to note that these causes are not exhaustive, and an accurate diagnosis is crucial for effective treatment. If you are experiencing jaw clicking, it is advisable to ask a healthcare professional for an evaluation and proper diagnosis. Consider reaching out to the experts at Campbell & Williams Family Dental, a trusted dental office in Highland Village specializing in comprehensive TMJ treatment.

Common Symptoms Associated with Jaw Clicking

Jaw clicking when chewing is often accompanied by additional symptoms that can vary in severity. Here are some of the most common symptoms associated with this condition:

  • Pain or discomfort: Jaw clicking is often accompanied by pain or discomfort in the jaw area. This pain may be intermittent or constant, depending on the underlying cause.
  • Limited jaw movement: Some individuals may experience restricted jaw movement, making it challenging to open or close their mouths fully.
  • Headaches or migraines: Jaw clicking can trigger headaches or migraines, especially if there is tension or strain on the TMJ.
  • Earaches or tinnitus: The TMJ is in close proximity to the ears, and issues with this joint can cause earaches or ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
  • Locking of the jaw: In severe cases, jaw clicking can lead to the jaw locking in an open or closed position, leaving the individual unable to move it without assistance.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms along with jaw clicking, it is vital to find medical attention for a correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

How to Treat and Prevent Jaw Clicking

Luckily, there are several treatment options available to address jaw clicking. The approach will rely on the underlying cause and severity of your condition. Here are some common treatment methods:

  • Diagnosis by a healthcare professional: To specify the cause of your jaw clicking, a healthcare professional will conduct a thorough evaluation, involving a physical examination and possibly imaging tests like X-rays or an MRI.
  • Conservative treatments: In many cases, conservative treatments can effectively address jaw clicking. These may include:
    • Resting the jaw: Minimizing excessive jaw movement and avoiding activities that aggravate the condition.
    • Applying heat or cold packs: Applying heat or cold packs to the impacted area can help reduce pain and inflammation.
    • Avoiding hard or chewy foods: Choosing softer foods and avoiding excessively chewy or tough foods can prevent strain on the TMJ.
    • Using over-the-counter pain relievers: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or pain relievers can help diminish pain and lessen inflammation temporarily.
  • Physical therapy exercises for jaw muscles: Physical therapy exercises can help strengthen the muscles around the jaw and improve the functionality of the TMJ.
  • Night guards to prevent teeth grinding: If bruxism is causing or contributing to your jaw clicking, wearing a night guard while sleeping can help minimize the strain on the TMJ.
  • TMJ splints or oral appliances: A healthcare professional may recommend the use of splints or oral appliances to help realign the jaw and alleviate jaw clicking.
  • Surgery as a final resort: In rare cases that do not react to conservative treatments, surgery may be an option. However, this is typically viewed as a last resort option and will be explored only after other non-invasive treatments have been exhausted.

Remember, it’s vital to consult a healthcare professional before embarking on any treatment plan to ensure it is appropriate for your specific situation. For personalized TMJ treatment in Highland Village, trust the experts at Campbell & Williams Family Dental.

Lifestyle Modifications to Ease Jaw Clicking

In addition to professional treatment, particular lifestyle modifications can help ease jaw clicking and prevent further complications. Consider including the following habits in your daily routine:

  • Stress management: Stress and anxiety can exacerbate jaw clicking. Implement stress management methods like deep breathing exercises, meditation, or participating in activities that you find relaxing.
  • Avoiding gum chewing: Chewing gum can strain the TMJ, increasing jaw clicking. Minimize or eliminate gum chewing from your routine.
  • Maintaining good posture: Poor posture can lead to jaw misalignment, leading to jaw clicking. Practice good posture habits, especially when sitting for extended periods.
  • Gentle jaw exercises and stretches: Performing gentle jaw exercises and stretches can help upgrade the flexibility and strength of the jaw muscles, reducing jaw clicking.
  • Avoiding caffeine and alcohol: Both caffeine and alcohol can contribute to jaw tension and clenching. Limit your intake or avoid them completely to reduce symptoms.
  • Eating a soft diet: Opt for softer foods that require less intense chewing to minimize strain on the TMJ. Incorporate foods like steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, and tender meats into your diet.

When to Seek Medical Attention for Jaw Clicking

While jaw clicking is often not a cause for immediate concern, certain situations warrant medical attention. If you experience any of the following, it is important to seek prompt medical evaluation:

  • Persistent pain or worsening symptoms: If your jaw clicking is accompanied by persistent pain or the symptoms worsen over time, consult a healthcare professional.
  • Trouble opening or closing the mouth: Inability to fully open or close your mouth can indicate a more severe issue that demands medical intervention.
  • Signs of infection or inflammation: If you see indications of infection, like swelling, redness, or discharge around the jaw area, it is important to seek immediate medical attention.
  • Chronic lockjaw or limited jaw movement: If your jaw frequently locks in an open or closed position, or if you experience ongoing limited jaw movement, you should consult a healthcare professional promptly.

Remember, early intervention can help stop further complications and ensure a better outcome.


Jaw clicking when chewing can be a source of annoyance and discomfort, but it can also be indicative of an underlying issue with your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). In this blog post, we’ve explored the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for jaw clicking. Consult a healthcare professional for a detailed diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. By following the recommendations provided, practicing good oral habits, and seeking appropriate medical attention when needed, you can find relief from jaw clicking and improve your overall oral health. Take the first step towards a pain-free and comfortable jaw by seeking professional help today. Your journey to a click-free and healthy jaw starts now!

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