Dentist Questions Dental Surgery (Oral Surgery)

Clicking in my jaw

My dentist wants me to see an oral surgeon regarding the clicking in my jaw when I open my mouth. Is this a normal thing to do?

53 Answers

Clicking is not normal and can be as simple as clenching and grinding at night causing overstretching to more severe problems involving damage to the disc of the joint so if your dentist does not know...then yes...have it checked by a specialist
Are you asking if the clicking or seeing an oral surgeon is the normal thing to do? A lot of my patients have some clicking or other noises upon opening but most do not suffer with any painful symptoms and prefer to leave things alone. A consultation with an oral surgeon or a dentist who treats pathology of the TMJ area might be a wise thing to do. Especially if any pain is associated with opening of the jaw.
No! I would see a general dentist who had extensive TMD training.
They are likely looking to rule out a more severe TMJ (jaw joint) problem. Hopefully, the click is not causing jaw pain or headaches. The consult would be a good idea to help avoid future issues.
You can get a night guard to help with the clicking or a general dentist can make you one.
I would visit with an orthodontist, if you dentist does not do ortho, to have your bite evaluated. If the click is due to a traumatic event like a car accident or sports injury, then an oral surgeon may help but if there is no history like that, the best place to start is with a full extra and intra-oral muscle exam and the bite to see what is causing the click to happen. Do you have a history of clenching or grinding, recent extensive dental treatment, are you symptomatic, etc. are questions that should be asked by your treating dentist first.
Yes. Based on what you described, you seem to have signs of what is called TMD ( Temporo Mandibular Disorder). You should see an oral surgeon or more preferably a TMD specialist. The longer you take to get treatment shall increase the extent of the treatment. If you are seeing an oral surgeon, please make sure that he or she is comfortable handling your TMD situation.

Hope this helps.

Devang Shah DMD
Yes they will refer you to a specialist who is familiar with the TMJ (tempo-mandibular joint or jaw joint) if they find that the clicking will lead to problems in the joint in the future. If there is no pain, not to worry, not as urgent and it's up to you if you wish to seek further advice. Generally clicking can be a precursor to jaw joint problems such as pain around the ear and head aches.
Dear patient, there are several reasons why the jaw clicks. The number one issue that the jaw clicks is the malocclusion. What it means is that your teeth do not come together in a correct way. Usually people with class II occlusion are very prone to jaw ailments. In my opinion and practicing more than 20 years, no oral surgeon has ever truly fixed any TMJ issue. Unless you are in severe pain, they have a tendency to watch it!!!
The best way to correct this problem is to correct the bite by braces. You should definitely have a consultation with an orthodontist and ask for their opinion. 90 percent of the times the clicking corrects itself once the bite is corrected orthodontically. Hope that answers your question.
Dr. Ramona
You need to see a TMJ specialist. Some oral surgeons also have special trainings for treating problems associated with TMJ.
try to get nightguard,it could be self correcting
Its a TMJ disorder , you should seek an oral surgeons help.
Typically clicking is caused by the disk between the joint slipping. Usually once it starts clicking there is not much that can be done to stop it. We recommend seeing a dentist who is versed in TMJ disfunction and get an orthotic (night guard) specifically made for your mouth and adjusted properly.
Yes it is.
I would avoid having TMJ surgery if at all possible. After TMJ surgery, you usually have reduced and limited opening of your mouth (which can make eating more difficult), and most often open the door to future surgeries.

TMJ surgery should be limited to only the very most severe cases such as where pathology (tumor, cyst, etc.) is present or complete destruction of the condyle. Most popping can be eliminated by the use of orthopedic appliance therapy which is a mouth guard that moves the jaw down and forward. I had a patient who was too embarrassed to eat with clients, because his jaw popped so loudly. After wearing a custom appliance, he said the jaw popping was completely gone in one month.

So if I were you, I would rule out all possible non-surgical options before I would see an oral surgeon.
Clicking in the jaw is a common occurrence usually caused by clenching or grinding. Some people experience pain associated with it, others do not. Depending upon the severity of the clicking and/or pain, sometimes anti-inflammatories are prescribed along with jaw relaxation techniques. If the clicking or pain persists a custom fitted bite appliance (night guard) will be fabricated to help alleviate the discomfort. A thorough exam is always needed before any treatment is performed
Yes, depending on the severity of the jaw issue, either a oral surgeon or pain specialist referral is given.
I would first ask you if this clicking causes pain? If it does or does not, then it doesn't require a trip to the oral surgeon's office. There are other things that can be done to attempt to lessen or stop pain if it hurts. If it doesn't hurt then you can either attempt to have it controlled a little more or just live with it- only if you aren't having pain. The last thing you want to do is to have TMJ surgery. It's expensive and it usually doesn't work that well.
The best thing to do is to find a dentist that treats TMJ disorders and/or Bruxisim. Many general dentists have training in it.

I hope that this helps. If you have any further questions about this issue, just drop a line and let me know exactly what is happening with your condition and how it affects you.

Take care, keep smiling and floss the teeth that you want to keep! :)
Some general dentists treat TMJ disorders while others do not. Clicking in your jaws could indicate a problem within the joint, but not all clicking needs to be treated . A trip to the oral surgeon to be diagnosed will be helpful, but I would not consent to any type of surgical intervention without another opinion from a university affiliated program.
Yes, it is very common for general dentists to refer patients to see an oral and maxillofacial surgeon regarding jaw clicking, particularly if you complained about it to your dentist.

The jaw joint, or the temporomandibular joint, connects the lower jaw to the skull. It is a ball and socket joint, with a disk between the ball and socket to cushion the joint. Normally, the disk sits right on top of the ball, and moves forward and down with the ball when opening mouth, and also moves up and back with the ball when closing the mouth. Clicking in the jaw joint when opening the mouth often indicates that the disc inside the joint may be partially displaced. The disc cannot be seen on x-rays, and is best visualized on an MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging.

If the jaw joint clicking is not painful and does not affect function, it may not require treatment. However, if pain or dysfunction is associated with the clicking jaw joint, treatment may help relieve the pain and improve function. This is probably why your dentist recommended that you see an oral surgeon.

Hope this helps!

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Your dentist is right to send you to a dental specialist for a professional second opinion. However, an oral surgeon is just one of the specialists worth considering. Other dental specialists to be considered include oral medicine & pathology, periodontist and orthodontist. Sometimes even medical specialist such as ENT surgeon may be needed. Proper diagnosis & assessment of your temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ) signs & symptoms is critical, and may involve interdisciplinary approach from several specialties. Your jaw joint problems should be assessed & treated non-surgically first. TMJ surgery will always be the very last resort, and only after serious consideration!
I recommend conservative treatment with a dental appliance from a dentist who treats TMJ issues first.
In my office I fabricate a Gelb or DNA appliance which are helpful for my patients. There are many appliances available and treatment is dependent on type of TMJ issue present.
Good luck to you.
Your clicking in your jaw can simply be the articulate disc in your TMJ that is reducing upon open and closing your mouth. This disc can be displaced and when you open your mouth it can produce that click your describing while your jaw joints translate and rotate! Depending on the degree of displacement it usually can be treated with splint therapy or other conservative therapies if your symptoms increase they further treatment may be required.
You can either see an oral surgeon or a TMJ specialist.
Thank you,
Eyad Salloum DMD
I am not sure why your dentist has encouraged you to see an oral surgeon, unless there are other factors involved. Have you had any type of trauma, ie, got hit in the mouth, had a car accident??? All of those could cause trauma to the jaw joint(TMJ). Do you grind or clench your teeth when you are stressed or possibly at night. Have you had a recent x-ray of your jaw to determine if there is any trauma to the joint. Maybe your dentist referred you because they are not comfortable treating TMJ cases… Good Luck
Your dentist's referral to an oral surgeon is completely normal. Oral surgeons have a more specialized training, in most cases, regarding jaw joints and how to diagnosis whether your clicking is a problematic issue for your overall health.

Things like grinding, clenching or TMJ spasms can affect more than the stability and functionality of your teeth but can also lead to migraines and facial pain similar to trigeminal neuralgia.

I suggest scheduling a consultation with an oral surgeon to determine the reasoning for your issue and different ways to treat it.
Clicking of jaws during opening or closing is not normal occurrence and needs to be evaluated by experienced dentist. You want to see a dentist that treats patients with TMJ disorders - it could be a general dentist, prosthodontist, oral surgeon. Just make sure they have understanding and experience in treating patients with TMD.
Yes. This is normal.
Yes. When all other therapy modalities have been exhausted. Was an occlusal analysis and adjustment provided? Was a therapeutic guard made? Was botox administered? Surgery is the last choice and indicated when there is pain. Dr. Dennis Walker

Better to see Oral Surgeon or TMJ Specialist
Hi. Many people hear clicking upon opening or closing the jaw. In between your jaw joint and the socket in which it lies, is a soft tissue disc. As that disc moves over your joint when you open and close, sometimes one can hear a click. As long as it is not bothersome to you, and there is no limitation to opening or closing of your jaw, you do not necessarily have to do anything about it. It can't hurt to have an oral surgeon check your jaw to make sure there are no problems.
Clicking in the jaw joint can be 1.) normal, it can be 2.) a disc displacement with or without reduction, or it could be 3.) degenerative joint disease. A thorough radiographic and clinical exam would be necessary to properly diagnose the condition. Once a diagnosis is reached, treatment could range from simple jaw exercises and stretches, to a night guard to be worn to bed, to surgery. So a referral to an oral surgeon would be very reasonable depending upon the diagnosis and degree of TMJ dysfunction.
If you are not having any pain in your jaw, there is not a whole lot an oral surgeon will be able to do. Clicking in the jaw can be a normal part of wear and tear from clenching or grinding. Generally, people are the most fast asleep when they are clenching and/or grinding and don't realize they are doing it. A night guard or Botox in the clenching muscles is the best treatment.
Personally, when I come across a patient with symptoms that I may not be familiar with, or just when I want another set of "eyes" on a particular set of presenting symptoms, I am either trying to confirm what I think is going on, or I have little experience with those symptoms and I need help in a diagnosis to make sure my patient is getting the best care and proper treatment for the condition.

Your dentist is right to send you to see an oral surgeon. Some of them are specialized in articulation and can provide great treatment options. If you don't do anything, it might get worse. Sometimes, just a mouth guard can help, the oral surgeon will tell you :)
A portion of the population has popping and clicking with no symptoms. However, if popping and/or clicking are symptomatic, then it is a normal thing to do. If you are having pain or difficulty chewing, you probably need to see an oral surgeon.
You most likely have TMJ, which is inflammation in your joints brought on by grinding at night and clenching during the day, usually caused by stress. I treat my patients with a night guard, worn on the lower teeth, hard on the outside and soft inside custom made for their mouth, not store bought.
It is one of several options of "normal" things to do. You can also seek the expertise of a dentist trained with TMJ/TMD experience. You can read our web page for more information as to how we handle jaw popping, clicking, and pain. Good luck.
There are many causes of your condition. Some of them are: stress, which leeds to clenching and grinding, misalignment of the teeth; not treated by orthodontist. The dental professional, whether it is your dentist or other specialist in this area can help you with this. Taking your dentition/teeth off so called premature occlusal contacts may also help. If you are experiencing pain, you may need anti-inflammatory medication.
It is not "normal" to have clicking in the jaw, but it is not uncommon. This can be because of a displaced joint or disk. It can sometimes be more annoying than painful, but you should definitely get it checked out, so that it doesn't possibly progress to something more serious.
There are a number of reasons why the jaw clicks. Dentist with knowledge in TMJ (Temporo-Mandibular-Joint) would be able to diagnose and provide treatments. Jaw clicking often caused by jaw and/or teeth do not come together good. Dentist with combined knowledge in TMJ pain, orthodontics would be the best health practitioner to give advice.

To answer your question: If your jaw clicking is due to recent trauma, then an oral surgeon would be the best person to look at that.
Yes, that is certainly normal. There are a few TMJ specialists (one of my partners, Dr Renspurkar, for example). They can do a thorough exam.

Dr. Robert A. Strauss
If your dentist is not trained or comfortable treating disorders of the temperomandibular joint, then referral is a good option. Clicking indicates a problem of the joint that should be assessed.
An oral surgeon can certainly diagnose your clicking jaw. There are also dentists who are experts in TMJ-related problems, that can diagnose and offer treatment options for you.
A lot of times clicking can be dealt with by making a mouthguard to wear while you sleep. The clicking is because the piece of cartilage (between your skull and your lower jaw) is moving around and getting "stuck". A mouthguard repositions your jaw so that the piece of cartilage is in a better place. Clicking by itself is not a big problem, but if you have pain, headaches, sore teeth, or have difficulty opening (or get stuck open), then you need a mouthguard.
Hi, Thank you for your patience!

It depends - if the clicking is associated with pain, discomfort or locking of your jaw. Even if no current symptoms are experienced, besides the clicking, these can develop later. Also, does it bother you? Is is very loud or barely audible? There is no harm to get a consultation, but it could create additional costs. Get a second opinion, if you are unsure. Surgery is not necessary in all cases. Ask about all the treatment options, if any treatment is advised. The clicking is caused by a cushion disk between your scull & lower jaw joint. This cushion disk is attached with a ligament. Sometimes, this ligament is warm & the disk slides forward & then suddenly 'jumps' back in position.

Hope this gives you a satisfactory answer.
Yes it is, clicking of the jaw may be related to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems. It is wise to get it looked at by a specialist, especially if any pain is associated with it.
This is a very normal thing to do. I refer a lot to oral surgeons for TMJ issues, especially very audible clicking.
Is it painful? Do you have limited mobility? Is it a sudden occurrence? Do you have jaw pain in general or had issues with TMJ in the past? It's not a bad idea to evaluate it, but if it is just noise and no pain or limited mobility, it's something you deal with and maybe get a night guard. The night guard will help keep you from grinding at night. This may be causing some of your issues.
Hi there,

Popping of the jaw without pain is common. It is often caused by grinding, clenching, bite misalignment or arthritis of the TMJ. Popping and clicking of the jaw is an indication of imbalance or disorder of the temporomandibular joints (TMD). Symptoms of pain starts to develop when the joints are compromised, which is often associated with erosion of the disk and cartilage damage. We treat our TMD patients with a special bite appliance that helps relieve tension of the facial muscles around the joints and protects the TMJ from further damage. Although popping of the TMJ may not cause immediate problem, I would advise you to get evaluated by a dentist who has experience in treating TMD.

Hope this helps.

Kathleen Young, DDS
Clicking, popping, or crackling of the jaw is a very common problem. For many people, it is stable, causing no pain, or other problems. If that is the case, it can be followed, with no treatment required. However, some jaw popping or clicking is associated with pain, limited opening, or a locked jaw. Sometimes, it can cause bite changes, which might be a sign of a serious problem. If any of these problems occur, it might be necessary to see a specialist to determine the exact cause of the issue. Any time the problem is progressing, a thorough evaluation is required.
Are you having pain with the clicking? Generally clicking means that the disc inside is slipping out of place and back into the correct position. This can be a variation of normal. If it ever stops clicking, it's a bad thing because that means the disc is out of place entirely where a surgeon may need to be involved to reattach the disc. A grinding sound or feeling may indicate that the bones are grinding on each other, with the disc out of place. Hopefully, that sheds some light on your situation and you can always get a second opinion since this is something best seen in person.

Dr. Reiser