Recently, I received a Facebook message regarding jaw clicking. The question was – when does jaw clicking require orthodontics, how it can be helped, and if it potentially leads to surgery for the TMJ joints (jaw joints). This is also known as the Temporomandibular Joint.
TMJ joints are the most complicated and overworked joints in the body. They are used when eating, talking, yawning, singing, etc.
Can orthodontics help with jaw clicking and other jaw issues? In many cases it can – but let’s first learn more about how about the function of the jaw. Check out the video below:
Jaw clicking occurs when the Articular Disc (see video above) has moved out of position (moved anterior of the condyle of the mandible bone) and then moves back into position as the mouth opens. When the disc moves back into position with the click, this is called anterior disc displacement with reduction. The disc also clicks as the mouth is closed, but is not as loud.
Disc displacement with reduction (which means a click on opening) should be treated because it can lead to a more serious condition. The more serious condition is called disc displacement without reduction (there is no click). There is no click because the articular disc is not moving back into position on opening. Because the disc is staying anterior, the mouth is limited in opening – making it difficult to eat and talk. This can also be very painful because the disc is no longer acting as a cushion when the mouth is closed and the two bones of the jaw joint function directly on nerves and blood vessels (the retrodiscal pad).
Because the articular disc is staying anterior, the mouth is limited in opening; making it difficult to eat and talk. This can also be very painful, because the disc is no longer acting as a cushion when the mouth is closed and the two bones of the jaw joint function directly on nerves and blood vessels (the retrodiscal pad).
Next Steps for Treating Jaw Clicking and Other Jaw Issues
What causes the articular disc to move out of position? Muscle overuse is a key cause. The lateral pterygoid is one of the primary muscles involved. The lateral pterygoid is involved in nocturnal bruxism – also known as clenching/grinding your teeth at night.
Can orthodontic treatment help with muscle overuse in your jaw? The answer is yes. If a tooth or teeth are out of position, the brain subconsciously sends messages to the muscles that there is a tooth interference and the muscles hyperfunction trying to grind or eliminate the interference with the teeth.
Many times in addition to treating the teeth we also need to balance the muscle with the teeth. We use a technique known as TruDenta®. Also Botox can be used if needed to eliminate trigger points or knots in the muscles.
Usually these conservative treatments are successful 95% of the time in our patients who are having trouble with jaw clicking or jaw pain. Surgery is only recommended in 2% of cases.
Getting the correct diagnosis is the key. The doctor must determine the cause and source of dysfunction.
Only 10% of dentists have post-doctorial training in TMJ treatment. Our doctors have this additional training and would love to visit with you to discuss jaw clicking and all of your orthodontic needs during a complimentary consultation.