Many patients experience a popping or clicking noise in their jaw from time to time. While it rarely hurts or inconveniences them in any way, some still wonder about what it means. Here’s a brief explanation for some of our more curious patients.
When we open our jaws, the lower jaw bone glides down and slightly forward. In order for this to happen, the rounded edge of our jaw bones (known as the condyle) glide across a small lubricated disk (the articular disk) that separates the jaw bone from the base of our skull. However, sometimes the disk may be out of place, or out of shape, which causes the lower jaw bone to rub against the bottom of our skull.
The noise you hear when this happens is called crepitus.
Crepitus is Actually Fairly Common
In a study of over one thousand people, it was found that almost forty percent of those studied experienced crepitus in at least one side of their jaw. So if you happen to notice some popping or cracking while your chewing—don’t feel alone!
What if it Hurts?
Normally, any pain associated with crepitus is fairly minor, so it is normally treated with more simple measures. Simply eating softer foods, eliminated gum chewing, and using ice packs will usually alleviate any discomfort you are feeling.
Should you find chewing or every day functions to become abnormally painful, you may want to consult with an oral surgeon.
If you have any dental related questions you would like answered, feel free to ask us on Facebook, or even call our Brooklyn Heights Dental office—Signature Smile is here to help!