If you notice “crackle,” “snap,’’ or “pop” sounds seem to be coming from inside of your head or a point just above your ear while eating, chewing or yawning, then it could either be a simple temporary annoyance or a sign of TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder). The hinge joint between your jaws is one of the most complex joints in the entire body. As its name shows, this joint moves the lower jaw forward, backwards, and side to side like a hinge.
When this hinge connecting the lower and upper jaw is not working properly, you hear the off-and-on click and pop sound coming from your jaw.
- Arthritis can affect your jaw by damaging the cartilage of the TM joint
- Unhinged jaw joint or dislocation of joint due to injury
- Misalignment of teeth due to malocclusion
- Myofascial pain syndrome in the jaw
- Sleep apnea
- Infection in salivary gland
- Infected wisdom tooth
- Fibromyalgia– widespread pain and tenderness
Symptoms of TMD:
- Pain and pressure behind the ear
- Jaw stiffness
- Tenderness in jaw
- Taking medications such as muscle relaxant or aspirin to relieve muscle spasms
- Taking pain reliever or anti-inflammatory drugs when needed
- Wearing appliances like splint or bite plates to avoid clenching and grinding
- Learn muscle relaxation techniques and seeking training to eliminate muscle tension
- Surgery or corrective dental treatments
Food to avoid:
- Avoid chewy foods like bubble gum, steak, or candy
- Avoid crunchy foods as they aggravate pain in your jaw (including popcorn and fried chicken for example).
- Cut down on fatty food to reduce inflammation.
- Change your diet and incorporate soft and nutritious foods like soups, banana, yogurt, steamed, cooked and soft textured vegetables.
Don’t open your mouth wide, eat slowly, and eat in smaller portions.