If you have ever yawned a little too enthusiastically and felt a sharp pop in your jaw joint, it probably caused momentary pain and alarm, but you quickly forgot about it and went about your daily business. It’s regular popping upon opening or closing that is a cause for concern and means it is time to schedule a trip to our Fayetteville dental office.
Why Jaw Joints Pop
Each of your jaw joints, called temporomandibular joints or TMJ, have a small disc that glides on top of the joint condyle as the jaw opens and closes, while still allowing the teeth to come together upon closing. When teeth do not come together properly (malocclusion), that small disc can slip forward. It will often slip back when you fully open your jaw again. This disc dysfunction is what creates the clicking or popping sound that you hear while chewing, yawning, or talking.
When the disc fails to return to its position above the condyle, your jaw may lock.
Over time, because the joint condyle regularly rests directly against the temporal bone, the condyle may become worn and no longer function properly. This situation may require surgery.
TMJ Therapy and Treatment
Dr. Kifer strives to treat TMJ dysfunction before the need for surgery or more invasive treatment becomes necessary. A complete TMJ evaluation can provide Dr. Kifer with the information necessary to approach your treatment in a way that gives you the best results. That may mean that we recommend an MRI or a CT scan in addition to a complete evaluation in our dental office.
The best action you can take is to come in at the first sign that something is wrong. Using occlusal appliance therapy (splint), equilibration, orthodontics, restorative dentistry, or even medication, we can help you achieve greater comfort, better oral health, and improved overall health.
Contact Northwest Arkansas Family Dental to schedule an appointment. We can help!