You’ve probably cracked your knuckles once or twice – most people do – but have you ever wondered whether or not it’s healthy? For knuckle-cracking, the science is in – while it may be harmful, there’s not a lot of evidence that it’s anything more than annoying.
Here’s a more interesting question for a dental blog: Is it bad if your jaw cracks? Survey says – maybe.
Are you feeling sleepy?
One of the most common times you’ll hear a jaw crack or pop is when a person is yawning. It may also happen if a person opens their mouth really wide – like when they’re trying to mime a hippopotamus in charades. In these circumstances, evidence points to the jaw crackings as being perfectly normal – much like the sounds of cracking in the knuckles.
Popping and locking
The real problem comes when your jaw starts to pop when you close it – or when it’s at rest. You may also experience a locked jaw due to pain or swelling. The popping and locking may be aggravated by chewing. This may be a sign of a number of conditions known as TMDs.
What’s TMD – too much dinner?
No, TMD does not mean too much dinner – though if you eat jawbreakers for supper every day, you might get one. TMD actually stands for temporomandibular joint disorder. The temporomandibular joint attaches your jawbone to your skull, and almost any kind of discomfort in that joint is classified as a TMD.
There are a variety of different causes for TMDs, from joint diseases, like arthritis, to jaw injuries. Teeth clenching and stress may also contribute to TMDs – and what you eat can affect your jaw’s comfort, as well.
When should I see my dentist?
Given how many different causes there are for jaw discomfort and popping, the best rule to follow is this: if you’re uncomfortable or worried, give your dentist a call!
Now, this doesn’t mean you should rush to the dentist the moment you feel your jaw pop. You may benefit instead from simply adjusting your diet – opting for softer foods. There’s no simple solution for TMD, so doing what you can to change your routines and stop the popping is the best first step.
If you find your jaw continues to pop, if you feel any pain or other discomfort, or if you’re simply concerned about the popping, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We can help you find ways of adjusting your routine to reduce your discomfort, and we can do an exam to figure out whether or not there’s an underlying condition causing the TMD that needs to be addressed. Dental offices in Winnipeg can help with all kinds of oral health problems!