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The jaw joint complex of the teeth, muscles and joints – The jaw joints aspect – Part 3 – The Sounds – Medical Causes

August 6, 2018

Medical conditions


This is a degenerative disease of the joints. Two of the most common forms of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, both of which can result in cartilage damage in the jaw joints. The cartilage is the padding and the lining of the joint space. The crepitus or grinding sound is more likely to happen with this medical condition. Arthritis causes the destruction of the cartilage tissue. This then causes jaw movements to become difficult with joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation or swelling. Also rheumatoid arthritis can cause fatigue and appetite loss due to its autoimmune response of the body.

Jaw injuries

A broken or dislocated jaw, which happens when the joint of the jaw becomes dislodged, can cause jaw popping. Even a crack in the bone can cause the joint to click or pop. A telling sign is that the bite has changed since the injury. Do not ignore this and in any case seek at the very least an x-ray and an assessment, especially if there is bleeding, bruising, and swelling.

Facial swelling and bruising

Sleep apnoea

Sleep apnoea is a disorder that is characterised by shallow breathing with pauses in breathing, during sleep. It can cause jaw popping.

Some symptoms of sleep apnoea are daytime sleepiness, headaches, and mood changes. If the sleep apnoea is more obstructive, then there may also be snoring during sleep.

This is a serious condition, which can lead to increase the chances of high blood pressure, heart attack, and can be a complication of obesity.

People with sleep problems should seek immediate medical treatment.

Teeth malocclusion

Malocclusion of the teeth causes misalignment of the jaw and the mouth. This can as a result of the position of the teeth or the relationship of the jaw bones to each other or both. This can lead to jaw popping or clicking.

Malocclusion of the teeth requires orthodontic assessment and treatment.

Left - Lower wisdom tooth covered by swollen gum bitten by.... Right - upper wisdom tooth also rubbing cheek muscle


In some cases, jaw popping is caused by an infection of the glands of the mouth.

Other signs and symptoms of oral infections include dry mouthbad taste, facial pain and inflammation.

Antibiotics or other therapies may be necessary to treat oral infections.


Tumours can develop in almost any area of the mouth and in the bones. Depending on their position, tumours can affect jaw movement, leading to joint sounds. All tumours or growths must be thoroughly assessed as some of these can lead to cancer to develop.

Top: under the tongue, side of tongue; Bottom: white streaks - referred to oral surgeon

We will come back to the series: The jaw joint complex of the teeth, muscles and joints – The jaw joints aspect – Part 4 – The Sounds – Treatment

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