Why Does My Jaw Pop? The Top 3 Reasons

Click. Pop. Whir. Buzz. These can be absolutely adorable noises coming from a child’s toy just pulled out of a brightly wrapped and beribboned package, causing squeals of delight. Clicking and popping noises coming from your jaw, however, are not adorable and, instead of squeals of delight, are likely to bring on exclamations of discomfort.

Jaw popping and/or clicking with chewing, yawning, opening wide, or similar extension behaviors are symptoms of a group of problems called temporomandibular disorder or TMD. TMD describes problems with the joints and muscles of the jaw that allow you to speak, chew, and to move your lower face. If you’re wondering, “Why does my jaw pop,” it’s worth taking a look at common causes of TMD, how serious the possible conditions are, and what how to treat TMD.


Stress frequently causes people to clench their jaw muscles, particularly while sleeping. Clenched jaws put pressure on the joint, including the muscles around the joint and cartilage in the joint. If you find yourself with new jaw pain or a jaw that suddenly has joined the percussion section soon after new or increased stress in your life, it’s reasonable to suspect stress as a possible culprit.

How Serious Is It?

Stress that is persistent and unmanaged over long periods of time can cause serious health problems. And the damage to your dental health from clenching and grinding your teeth is not limited to jaw pain; the micro-cracks caused by clenching and grinding your teeth can also increase your risk of caries and hypersensitivity. However, all these problems develop over time, so if you notice the symptoms early, you will have time to prevent long-term damage.

How to Treat It

Your dental care team can help fit you with a custom nightguard to wear while you are sleeping to prevent damage from clenching and grinding. Be cautious when considering use of a nightguard not provided by a dental professional, however; over-the-counter nightguards can actually worsen symptoms if they do not fit properly. Stress management to address the root of the problem can also help address the pain.


A blow to the face has the potential to damage the jaw joint. Straining from overextending your jaw (who knew a big yawn could be risky!) can cause temporary jaw pain and problems. Even chewing something hard with your teeth misaligned could cause a minor injury to the TMJ (temporomandibular joint).

How Serious Is It?

It depends on the seriousness of the injury. If you had a recent blow to the face that includes symptoms of pain and swelling, with or without new jaw clicking or popping, you can consult your regular doctor or dentist to have the injury checked out. Jaw problems from an injury will generally resolve as the injury heals.

How to Treat It

Ice and rest are the first steps in helping most injuries, including facial injuries. If the blow was serious enough, you may need to seek medical care. Most injuries will resolve with rest and time. You may need to switch to a soft food diet while you heal. You can also use ice and over-the-counter pain relievers for comfort while healing up.


Certain inflammatory or degenerative joint conditions can cause your joint to stop working as well. Arthritis—whether psoriatic, rheumatoid, or osteoarthritis—can cause jaw problems.  The good news is that it’s a fairly uncommon location in which to develop arthritis.

How Serious Is It?

Arthritis can be serious anywhere. In general, the damage caused by arthritis is not reversible, but with proper care, your doctor may be able to halt the progression of your arthritis to keep the problem from getting worse.

How to Treat It

Over-the-counter pain relievers can help with the pain and discomfort of arthritis. Some people are also helped by a dental mouth guard or splint to help keep their jaw comfortably aligned. Arthritis is a medical condition that should be monitored by your doctor, so you will need to maintain regular appointments with your healthcare team to manage your condition. Be sure to share information about your arthritis with your dental care team so they can take appropriate steps to help you during your dental care as well.

Why Does My Jaw Pop?

TMD doesn’t have to become a permanent problem. Talk to your dental care team or your doctor if you are having pain, with or without clicking and popping noises, for help identifying and treating any problems.

Professional Login

You have requested to view the site. Are you sure? Cancel

book-with-lightbulb checkmark lock Logo-Icon arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right blog-icon cart facebook find-dentist-icon marker pinterest play-btn resources-icon returns-icon search security-icon shipping shop-icon twitter youtube printer Instagram search-two play-button-circle bad-breath dry-mouth sensitive-teeth white-spots