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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Do I possible have TMJ/TMD (sudden clicking in jaw)?

    It happened a week ago, but not everyday. I had sudden very slightly clicking in my jaw. Sometimes my jaw will click, but is not painful at all and it was very slight. It just happened when I closed my mouth for a long time, then when I wanted to open it slowly, there was very slightly clicking sound but when I opened my mouth wide and closed it, there was no clicking sound. I had braces (damon system) without tooth extraction, I've talked about this matter to my orthodontist and she checked my jaw. She put four fingers in my TMJ area and told me to open my mouth really wide and then closed it. She said my jaw was healthy, no clicking sound, slide perfectly. So, that very slight clicking - is that TMJ related? I didn't grind my teeth, i never had trauma in my jaw, I didn't chew gum or ate hard food before this happened.
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  • 2


    Hi Cynthia,

    It's likely that the clicking sound you heard was from your TMJ, but its also important to note that clicking of the joints, whether the TMJ, your knees, or other joints, is often harmless. The fact that you had no pain when you experienced the clicking is also a positive sign. 

    Sometimes people can grind their teeth in their sleep without realising it, and sometimes orthodontics can change the bite in subtle ways which can have an effect on the TMJ. Age related degeneration of the joint tissues can also sometimes have an impact on TMJ function.

    From what you have described as your current symptoms, I wouldn't worry too much. But if the clicking becomes more noticeable, or is assosciated with any pain or deviation of the jaw I would go and see your dentist who can perform further tests and see if there's a problem.

  • 1


    Dr Bill Adamson

    Osteopath, Personal Trainer, Pilates Instructor

    I like making people understand their bodies, the how's and why's of their dysfunction. I also have a quiet passion for neuroscience and the effect … View Profile

    Hi Cynthia

    I totally agree with Dr James that there is most likely nothing to worry about.

    Often times these things come and go.

    One thing I would add is that headaches are commonly associated with TMD/bruxism related issues. 

    I'm currently in a course and have been "buddied" with a dentist and we have a theory that the headache component of hangovers is more likely to be caused by jaw clenching than anything else.

    If you are a regular headache sufferer and a bit of a clencher it is worth discussing it with your dentist or a practitioner (osteo/physio) that works with TMJ related issues.

    There are very simple techniques to decrease the tension of jaw muscles that can help.


    Bill Adamson

  • Principal Dentist at Darlinghurst Dental, a high quality, affordable practice located in the heart of Darlinghurst. A high emphasis on customer service and impeccable cross … View Profile

    Hi Cynthia,

    Further to the other contributors, I would also advise not to be worried. Clicking in the jaw is very common, affecting about 1 in 5 people. IF there are no other symptoms, it should not be a concern, but if you develop other symptoms, it could be a sign it is worsening. To prevent it getting worse, you should avoid any hard or chewy foods and excessive repetitive chewing. This means no Minties for you and only a maximum of 2-3 pieces of (sugar-free) gum a day.

    In terms of orthodontics, unless it was recent, it is likely unrelated. A lot of study has been done on this issue and those who have completed orthodontic treatment are actually less likely to have TMJ problems. Interestingly, in the 80s, a lady in America sued her orthodontist and won as she developed TMJ problems after her orthodontics. This put the whole field of orthodontics into question and a lot of studies were carried out to investigate any link between orthodontics and TMJ problems.

    Certainly, without any trauma, my suspicion would be bruxism, even though you mentioned you don't grind your teeth. Here's the reason. Almost everyone grinds their teeth. Some people do it a lot, some only a little. The problem arises when you use too much force or do it too frequently. Then damage occurs to the teeth and can tire the muscles and damage the joint. If you develop any other symptoms, then you should certainly see your dentist. However, if your symptoms do not progress, it could be that it was just a transient episode.

    Hope this helps to clarify the other practitioners comments.


    Frank Farrelly

    Darlinghurst Dental

    30 Burton Street, Darlinghurst

  • 2


    Kerry Read


    Headline Physiotherapy for the Head Neck and Jaw deals specifically with TMJ Facial Pain Headache Migraine and other musculoskeletal issues involving the cranial area. All … View Profile

    Hi Cynthia,

    a possible reason that you may have developed clicking, is that it may be normal for you to have a little more flexibilty in your joints than average. Opening your mouth to 4 fingers width is pretty wide. Maybe your elbows or finger joints tend to extend beyond straight when you stretch them out? In this case the small disc within the jaw joint, has more room to move around allowing it to move into more extreme positions. If the disc goes a little too far forward, then when you open your jaw past a certain point, the bones run out of contact with the disc and you hear a little click as it pops off the end, and maybe another when it pops back into contact again.

    If you do have joint hypermobility you may benefit from a consultation with a practioner who can show you some simple ways to look after your jaw joints and prevent this from developing into a problem.

    Another confusing thing is that 'TMJ' is the short form of saying 'Jaw Joint'. Ironically, it is also used as a description of having a problem with your jaw, and clicking is often listed as one of the symptoms. Just because your jaw is clicking doesn't mean that you will go on to have the long list of problems which you may have read about.

    I hope this helps.

  • 1


    Sharon Moore

    Speech Pathologist

    I am a Speech Pathologist with 30 years clinical experience, working over the years with a wide range of clients with communication and swallowing disorders. … View Profile

    Hi Cynthia,

    You have already received very good advice about TMJ/jaw joints and possible causes for clicking. I wonder also if you hear the clicking on both sides or just one side of the jaw? The way chewing and swallowing muscles are used habitually can have an impact on your jaw joints. If it is one-sided, it can be very useful to pay attention to whether you prefer chewing on one side of the mouth to the other. If so, try to keep it even, and this will help the muscles in your face, that open and close the jaw work evenly.

    Kind regards

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