Clicking and Locking Jaw

by Danielle
(Fargo, ND)

» Clicking and locking jaw


For about two years now, I have had a horrible click to my jaw. Sometimes it's painful, sometimes not. It occurs when I chew and kiss. Basically whenever I have to move it. About once a month it locks open while chewing. Sometimes it feels like my face got struck by lighting when it happens and other times I can just feel it slipping and am now able to stop it from happening.

When it does happen, eating and talking are not options. The only way it becomes unlocked is by going to bed for the night. And in the morning, all is good, just the clicking. (I'm assuming it the relaxation at night). So if it locks in the morning, it is a very long day.

Also when I open, the entire jaw shifts and does not pop in unison. (It shifts to the right and pops first on the left side and then the right side). Viewing your chart, everything is definitely happening in the TM Joint.

Do you feel the exercises you have on this site would work for me? I have never done any nor sought professional help for my jaw.

Any suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated.

Hello Danielle,
First a couple questions? Have you had your wisdom teeth removed under anaesthetic, or major dental work with the molars? When did this begin?

Thirdly, do you suffer from facial pain, or headaches? Any suboccipital pain at the base of the skull?

You almost certainly have a severely damaged meniscus that is allowing the joint to dislocate. Hence my questions about what caused it.

You've left this a long time. Too long if I may say so.

I would certainly start with the exercises, but very gently. Any that cause the dislocation, avoid.

Start looking for someone who works with jaw joints. That might be your dentist or chiropractor, but physical therapist too. This is a nasty case, and you need someone really experienced.

A bite plate at night might help, but it sounds like your problems are not brought on at night, as is often the case. Do you suffer from bruxism? Grinding of the teeth at night?

The big thing is to take small bites and not open your jaw wide. It's hard but the best. No apples or burgers. Cut your food up into small pieces.

Chewing gum might aggravate it.

I wish I could be more helpful. Try at all costs to avoid surgery.

Good luck and let me know how you get on a month or two. Start with your dentist.

Dr B

» Clicking and locking jaw

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Jun 05, 2015
Much Thanks
by: Anonymous

First of all, I want to thank you for your advice. I've gone a long time with people telling to get help with it but I'm guess I've just been stubborn!

To answer your questions. Yes, I had all 4 wisdom teeth pulled. But not under anesthetic and not even under the "laughing gas". Just a numbing type of shot. I've given birth to 3 children and would choose that any day over getting my teeth pulled again. Worse experience of my life!!! The doctor was physically on top of me, breaking, and pulling chunks of my teeth out. I could tell everything he was doing. A few days after, I got a severe infection and ended seeing a doctor for it. That was in 2005.

Not much facial pain. My jaw is just constantly tense/tight so that wears on ya!

Yes to headaches; most are either behind my eyeballs or yes, at the base of my skull in the back.

No to teeth grinding. Just a lot of clenching from my jaw being quite tight. I feel like I can never relax my face.

But yes, as soon as insurance allows, I will be seeking help. The tightness, clicking, and occasional locking is just getting too much to handle.

Again, thank you. - Danielle

Hello Danielle,
Just like adjusting the neck, and surgically doing a good hip replacement, pulling wisdom teeth is an art. It sounds like you had a butcher at work. But you can only live your life forwards.

Start by massaging your face yourself, or asking he who must be obeyed to do it. I'm not a sexist, I have a she who must be obeyed! Gently go over the muscles of the jaw as you open and close, without going far enough to click.

Your neck will need to be adjusted most likely, and the jaw joints balanced. It's difficult, so don't be impatient. Rome wasn't built in a day.

The TMJ exercises at Chiropractic Help might help; do them gently at first, until you know where you are.

An orthotic between the teeth at night sometimes helps, but it's a real art to make it correctly. It's not pleasant, but some folk swear by them.

Good luck, and let me know how you get on.

By the way, you've been saving huge sums by not having insurance. Nows the time to spend it.

Dr B

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I have left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he is happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti-inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He is doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost pain-free. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he is well pleased; sixty-five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he has taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily stroll has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift; he has a short leg.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. X-rays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65-year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88-year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done. 

10. Mr X is a 71-year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a few months ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It is a non-complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she is doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38-year old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he could not sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71-year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors should not be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that is so much bunkum.

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