Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)

Popping and Clicking in Jaw is Normal
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If you experience a popping sound, a grating sound, or a click when you open your mouth, you’re not alone.

The Temporomandibular JointMany people have slight problems with their jaw joint, which is formally known as the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ for short. Whenever we want to open our mouth, our jaw glides down and forward to allow our mouth to open.

The rounded end of the jaw bone that glides down is called the condyle.  Between the condyle and our skull, there is a small, soft, lubricated disk that allows our jaw to open smoothly.  This is called the articular disk.

Sometimes, that disk may not be big enough, or it may not be the right shape to allow the jaw bone to smoothly glide forward and down when you open your mouth.   When this happens, it is a condition known as crepitus.

Crepitus is a word that is used to describe the grating, crackling, and/or popping sounds that are heard around people’s joints.

Unfortunately, not everyone has jaw joints.  When I open my mouth, my jaw slides down and out nicely on the right side, but on my left side, there is a loud popping noise.  Luckily this only happens when I open my mouth really wide, so it doesn’t affect me when I chew gum or eat (unless it’s a really big hamburger!)