When most people think about pain or discomfort that impacts a person’s quality of life, they usually consider the limbs or the back as the main pain points.
However, if you have pain in your jaw, it can be just as difficult to go about your day in a normal fashion. If your jaw is popping, or if it tends to get locked up on occasion, then you should seek out a TMJ specialist in Calgary for help.
In the meantime, here are some reasons why your jaw may be acting this way, and how you might be able to prevent it in the future.
Reasons for Jaw Locking Up or Popping
If your jaw is popping and locking, it is most likely an issue with your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The TMJ is a very complex joint that makes it possible for your jaw to move in all the directions that it can.
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You can’t perform normal daily functions like eat, speak, and open your mouth wide without this joint. It is controlled by your facial muscles. Cartilage inside a joint socket absorbs the pressure that you put on the joint to prevent pain and discomfort.
You can start to experience discomfort for many reasons. A big one is that the cartilage that is meant to absorb pressure is damaged or displaced through trauma. Your jaw bones may have gotten dislocated as well. If your jaw is popping but you aren’t feeling pain, then in most cases there is nothing to worry about.
There are certain behaviors that can cause this. Chewing gum excessively is a big culprit, as is clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth while you sleep. In many cases, people with popping and locked up jaws do not even know they are grinding or clenching during the night.
On top of these relatively normal ways of causing jaw popping, lockeing, and pain, there may be an underlying health concern that is the culprit.
Arthritis can atacak the cartilage in your TMJ and cause it to deteriorate. As you lose the cartilage, your jaw will start to hurt, even with normal use. This can also cause swelling, stiffness, and a reduction in your jaw’s range of motion. When you have arthritic pain in your jaw, it could become chronic, which may affect your appetite and your sleep. This can make your malnourished and fatigued.
The popping you are experiencing in your jaw may be a sign of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a result of improper breathing while asleep. Sufferers from locking or popping jaws may be subconsciously snapping the jaw shut to prevent blocked airways during sleep apnea episodes. This can place incredible pressure on the TMJ and facial muscles. This type of pain can over reverberate into the neck and shoulder area.
Myofascial Pain Syndrome
This is a chronic condition that tends to afflict those who play sports or work jobs that involve repetitive movements. As the muscles get contracted so often over time, the pressure on the jaw can be intense. Pain will come and go, but the condition can last a lifetime.
How to Avoid Jaw Locking Up and Popping
There are several things you can do to try to prevent the pain and discomfort you are feeling in a jaw that is locking up or popping.
Keep the Pressure Off
A lot of jaw issues are the result of clenching, which places pressure on the jaw. You can mitigate this somewhat by keeping your jaws separated while you are awake. There may be certain movements that you make that cause a spasm, so try to avoid those movements, or move your jaw slowly if you have to.
It might surprise you to learn that having good posture is not just beneficial for your back and neck, but it also helps your jaw. Make sure that you are regularly checking your posture, and take some time out of your day to do some posture-friendly stretches and exercise. This can help relieve pressure and alleviate and prevent pain.
Change Your Eating Habits
Certain foods take more jaw power to eat, and can lead to locking up and popping. Try to avoid chewy and crunchy foods, which can cause your jaw to tire from overuse. Softer foods are best, so you can avoid the wear and tear. You should also avoid foods that require you to open your mouth very wide if that is one of the trippers for locking up.
Consult a Professional
It may be that your jaw issues cannot be treated by changing your habits. You may need the intervention of a TMJ specialist who can assess your situation and provide solutions. You may end up requiring medication, or even a mouth guard to absorb pressure if you clench or grind your teeth at night.
Having a jaw that pops and locks is no fun, and can seriously affect your quality of life. If you need help to stop your pain and discomfort, contact a TMJ specialist in Calgary right away.