Jaw Noises & Joint Damage

How The Jaw Works

Your jaw should open and close smoothly and straight with no bumps, clicks or cracking noises. Clicking, popping and scratchy sounds in the jaw joints are proof positive that the joints have been damaged. That said, most of the time there is no pain associated with the jaw joint sounds so people often assume that nothing much is wrong, but that is not true. Damaged joints can develop painful arthritis and lead to changing facial appearance as the structure of the jaw breaks down.

If you experience jaw noises or other problems like difficulty opening your mouth please click here to learn about treatment options or call us today at (203) 883-4433.

How Jaw Joint Damage Occurs

Two common causes

Clenching & Grinding

Clenching and grinding are from an imbalanced bite. Long term clenching and grinding builds up pressure in the jaw joint. The MOST important thing is to control the excessive force from clenching or grinding that both causes and worsens the damage.


The jaw joint can be damaged from trauma like a blow to the face. Even minor blows such as getting hit with a soccer ball, a whip lash injury from a fall or from a motor vehicle accident can cause damage – The results of these injuries might not show up until years later.

Normal Versus Damaged Joints

Some educational movies

Normal Jaw Joint

The disc between the moving bones is ‘hour glass’ shaped and moves smoothly along with the jaw bone as it moves back and forth when it opens and closes. Look at the position and size of the disc and how it stays between the bones during movement.

Damaged Jaw Joint

When the joint is damaged the disc is pulled from between the bones. Notice how it looks smaller and flatter and has been pulled out from between the bones (to the right). It is only between the bones when the jaw moves open and forward (to the right in the movie). As the disc gets between the bones it makes the bump or click or pop sounds. Treatment is important at this stage so it does not get worse.

Severely Damaged Jaw Joint

If your jaw used to bump or pop or click and that stops, it means that the damage has probably worsened. Notice in the movie that the disc is pulled way forward (to the right) Even when the jaw bone moves forward, the disc never gets between the bones. It is much worse and this joint can develop arthritis so treatment is really important here.

If you have questions or want to learn more about how we can help you please call us today at (203) 883-4433 or click here to learn about treatment options.