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Reasons for Clicking Jaws in Seniors

by Dr. Joshua Davidson, Senior Dental Care Expert
November 03, 2016

Question: My grandmother is complaining about her jaw constantly clicking. What could be the reason and how can a dentist help?

Answer: The mandible (your lower jaw) is held in place by ligaments. This is a joint, just like your knee, your elbows or your hip. The jaw joint is call the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). When something is out of balance this is called temporomandibular disorder (TMD).

Clicking, popping, noise and aches are all part of the disorder. The basis for the problem(s) is complex and varied. Arthritis, accidents, grinding, gum chewing, the way your teeth fit together are all causes for TMD.

Pain or no pain - that is the question. If there is no pain, don’t worry about it. Sounds emanating from the TMJ does not mean something is wrong, it means your jaw glides less smoothly.

Pain is a concern. I would encourage a senior who has jaw pain to visit their dentist first. Behaviors to diminish pain are: soft foods for two weeks, NO chewing gum, anti-inflammatories, limit the opening of your mouth when you yawn. If the symptoms are not changing find a dentist who specializes in TMD. Ask your dentist for a referral.

Joshua Davidson is a 2011 graduate of the Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health. He simultaneously received his Masters Degree in Public Health. He currently works at the Chippewa Falls Dental Center in Chippewa Falls, WI focusing on issues of geriatric dental care.

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