Jaw Popping

I've been having this popping sound whenever I open my mouth. I don't have pain. It's becoming very annoying. I went to my dentist who suggested filling my teeth for better alignment and crowning my lower two front teeth since I have grind them so bad. It will cost me $3,000 with no guarantee. I then went to a specialized dentist in TMJ and he recommended a mouth guard that I have to wear 24/7 and take it out only to eat. That will cost me around $3,500. I don't know which one to choose. Any suggestion?

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Hello Jaw Popper
by: Dr. Spainhower

Hello jaw popping,

Most likely the cause of the jaw popping is NOT a bad bite. It could be, but probably not. Let me clarify that. The main reason the popping is occuring is because the disc in the joint is slipping out of place. The main reason for the slipping disc is a bad bite when you were a teenager.

Often people don't notice the slipping disc as it can be undetectable. As we grow in to adulthood, and stress comes in our life, trauma etc. The slipping disc can get worse and more noticable. That can be determined by an experienced TMJ dentist. So, most likely you already had a slipping disc...if that is true, you will not cure that most likely.

What can be done is, you can wear a TMJ splint or even a home made guard and relieve the joint from clenching pressures, and the popping lessens to a manageable level, or even undetectable level.

Generally it takes 1-6 months for a higher level of stress to affect your body adversly. So, if something more stressful counting trauma in the last 6 months or so, you could be experiencing hard, loud jaw popping due to stress.

So, what I would do first before you address the option of correcting or changing your bite is..to evaluate your environmental stressors. Then at the same time, try my "TMJ appliance" recommendation found on this website to see if your popping reduces.

But, you have to be careful, because your jaw popping could possibly get worse with the TMJ Appliance idea. But, I would try it first anyway. If that doesn't work, then have a TMJ Splint made for you.

Do a little more looking for a TMJ Dentist that might be less money, because you just might be able to find a TMJ splint for under 2000.00. Although, keep in mind, whether it costs you under 2000.00 or 4000.00 to get the TMJ Splint, it doesn't matter, the important thing is that you get the right TMJ Dentist with the right splint therapy. It sounds like you have found the right TMJ Dentist from what you mentioned about the splint/mouthguard.

Take notice if the TMJ Dentist sounds like he is a "Nueromuscular" TMJ dentist, or a "bite correction dentist". If that is the case, they can treat your jaw popping well with a splint but probably you should defer on the bite correction.

So, to recap...Correcting your bite is probably NOT the answer to stopping the jaw popping. Evaluate your invironmental stressors...try a home made TMJ appliance to see if you get relief.

If little or no relief, or especially if the jaw popping worsens, call your TMJ Dentist. The home made appliance or a TMJ splint is just a crutch to aleviate your popping/symptoms to give your body some help while your body destresses. Now, it is possible that the splint reveals a severe off bite. In that case, you just might need to have your bite corrected/adjusted, but try the other more conservative treatments first.

Please feel free to let me know how it turns out for you.

Dr. Spainhower

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