Popping or clicking sounds when opening your mouth might be temporary and nothing to worry about. But they might also indicate a more serious underlying condition, namely jaw joint disorder. Or medically said – temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.
Throughout the month of March, we asked 2363 respondents to share their views about popular myths and facts on the topic. See how their knowledge compares to experts’ findings on matters such as:
- Is jaw popping among the main symptoms of jaw joint disorders?
- Is chewing gum the most significant factor for TMD?
Ready? Fuel up with curiosity and let’s go!
#1: Jaw popping or clicking is nothing to worry about: MYTH
It is true that in some cases, jaw popping or clicking does not indicate a serious problem. It could be just a temporary issue while chewing a piece of gum, for example.
However, it is never something to not pay attention to and 73% of DentaVox respondents realize this. It is the job of a medical practitioner to diagnose and identify the cause of your jaw popping/clicking. Keep in mind that an untreated jaw joint disorder might significantly harm the quality of your life by causing great pain and discomfort in the entire head area, as well as inflammations, worsened hearing, and even balance issues.
#2: Only accidents and injuries cause jaw joint disorders (TMD): MYTH
There is a misunderstanding in 27% of respondents that the sole reason for TMJ disorders is accidents.
While a high number of TMD cases involve some trauma related to car accidents, fights, or else, not all cases of the disorder are due to injury. Orthodontic problems, bruxism, and stress can be other serious factors.
#3: Jaw popping is among the main symptoms of jaw joint disorders (TMD): FACT
The majority of DentaVox survey participants (75%) correctly recognize jaw popping as one of the most usual symptoms of TMJ disorder. But it is certainly not the only one.
See the most common indications in the image below.
#4: It is very rare to have a jaw joint disorder (TMD): MYTH
The largest share of interviewees considers TMD a very rare problem to have.
The reality is different. Although its name might be rarely heard of, its prevalence in the population is certainly common. According to recent studies, jaw joint disorder is the second most common musculoskeletal pain after low back pain and a third of the population has at least one TMD symptom.
#5: Untreated jaw joint disorder (TMD) can cause strong migraines: FACT
Not addressing your jaw joint problems might lead to great suffering not only in the jaw area but in the entire head as well. Strong migraines are known to be caused by untreated TMD and 74% of respondents are aware of this fact.
#6: Teeth grinding can lead to problems with the jaw joints (TMJ): FACT
The vast majority of DentaVox survey participants (78%) claim that bruxism can cause jaw joint problems. And rightly so.
When you grind your teeth, you are damaging their structure. But you are also putting extra pressure on the jaw joints which may result in TMJ disorder if left untreated.
#7: Chewing gum too often causes jaw joint disorders (TMD): MYTH
Over half of the respondents are certain that chewing gum is among the greatest enemies to healthy jaw joints.
Experts disagree here and point out that normal chewing is even known to lubricate the temporomandibular joint, not harm it. There are other much more aggressive and common causes of jaw joint disorders – see the image below:
#8: The only treatment for jaw joint disorders (TMD) is surgery: MYTH
Okay, say you are diagnosed with a temporomandibular joint disorder… Now what? Is surgery the only way forward?
Most of the DentaVox interviewees (57%) do not think so. And TMJ specialists confirm. Although surgery is one treatment that can help, there are others. These include special orthotic appliances, massage therapies, laser biostimulation, vapor coolant sprays, muscle relaxants, tooth replacement therapies, etc. Consult with a specialist for the right solution in your personal case.
#9: There are special exercises that help with jaw joint disorders (TMD): FACT
On top of treatment therapies, there are special exercises that relieve the symptoms of jaw joint disorders and 87% of survey participants are familiar with their existence.
These exercises (a few examples here) are usually intended not only to reduce discomfort but to gradually restore the jaw’s range of motion. They target primarily the jawbone at the base of the skull, but also the throat and neck muscles more broadly. Our tip: start at a low pace and only after approval from your treating dentist or another doctor.
#10: If your jaw stops clicking, your jaw joint disorder (TMD) is gone: MYTH
It is not uncommon for people to believe that when a symptom disappears, that means that the underlying disease is also gone. This is sweet to believe but often wrong and very risky.
Just because the clicking sound in your jaw has stopped doesn’t mean you’re cured of TMD, although one-fourth of interviewees think so. This is only one symptom of jaw joint disorder, so have your doctor examine you thoroughly before you decide that your problem is gone.
Which of those myths and facts were you aware of?
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Stats source: DentaVox
20 Questions: Jaw Joint Disorders (TMD)
Base: 2442 respondents (global sample)