Jaw Clicking on One Side When Chewing: Causes and Solutions

 Jaw Clicking on One Side When Chewing: Causes and Solutions

February 1, 2024

Jaw clicking on one side when chewing can be an unnerving experience, causing both physical discomfort and concern. Imagine savoring your favorite meal only to be interrupted by a strange clicking or popping sound in your jaw. The good news is that you’re not alone. Many individuals experience this phenomenon, known as jaw clicking, which can occur for various reasons. This article explores the reasons, indicators, and cures for jaw clicking. Sit back as we decode the enigmas of jaw-clicking.

Understanding Jaw Clicking

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ), located on each side of the head, facilitates the movement of the jaw. It allows us to open and close our mouths, chew food, speak, and perform various other oral functions. When the TMJ functions normally, smooth and seamless movements occur without any noise or discomfort.

However, in some cases, the harmony of the TMJ is disrupted, leading to jaw clicking. This condition is characterized by an audible clicking or popping sound coming from the jaw joint on one side while chewing or opening the mouth. While jaw clicking is rarely a cause for immediate concern, it can be indicative of an underlying issue that may require attention. Let’s explore the potential causes of jaw clicking and how they manifest.

Causes of Jaw Clicking on One Side When Chewing

  • Misalignment of the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ):

When the TMJ is misaligned, the condyle (the rounded end of the jawbone) may not fit properly into the socket, leading to clicking sounds and discomfort.

  • Trauma or Injury to the Jaw:

An injury to the jaw can cause structural damage to the TMJ, resulting in clicking or popping sounds during jaw movements.

  • Bruxism (Teeth Grinding):

The habit of grinding or clenching your teeth, known as bruxism, places excessive pressure on the TMJ, leading to jaw clicking and associated symptoms.

  • Arthritis or Joint Disorders:

Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis have the potential to affect the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and contribute to jaw clicking.

  • Stress and Tension:
  • Stress and strain may heighten muscular tightness around the jaw, potentially causing clicking and discomfort. Importantly, this condition might arise from a blend of such elements or, sometimes, from indistinct causes.

Symptoms Associated with Jaw Clicking on One Side When Chewing

Individuals experiencing jaw clicking may also encounter various accompanying symptoms. While not everyone may experience all these symptoms, here are some indicators that are commonly associated with jaw clicking:

  • Audible Clicking or Popping Sounds
  • Jaw Pain or Discomfort
  • Difficulty Opening or Closing the Mouth Fully
  • Headaches or Migraines
  • Ear Pain or Fullness

Keep in mind, should these symptoms continue or intensify, it’s wise to consult a healthcare provider for precise diagnosis and suitable treatment. With that said, let’s delve into the diagnostic techniques used to pinpoint the root cause of jaw clicking.

Diagnosing Jaw Clicking

Diagnosing the exact cause of jaw clicking is crucial to determine appropriate treatment options. Healthcare professionals, often dentists or doctors specializing in oral and maxillofacial conditions, employ several methods to diagnose jaw clicking. These methods include:

  • Physical Examination:

A medical practitioner will perform a physical evaluation of the jaw, observing its motion, listening for any clicking or popping sounds, and feeling for any soreness or anomalies.

  • Dental and Medical History Assessment:

Gathering a comprehensive dental and medical history can provide vital clues about potential causes, such as prior injuries, dental treatments, or underlying conditions that may contribute to jaw clicking.

  • Imaging Tests:
  • X-rays or MRI scans might be suggested to offer comprehensive visuals of the jaw joint and adjacent areas, aiding in the detection of any structural irregularities or indicators of wear and tear.
  • Collaborative Diagnosis:

Due to the multifaceted nature of jaw clicking, dentists and doctors often work together to arrive at a collaborative diagnosis, combining their expertise to accurately identify the underlying cause.

Once the cause has been determined, suitable treatment options can be explored. Let’s delve into various methods used to manage and alleviate jaw clicking.

Treatment Options for Jaw Clicking on One Side When Chewing

Treatment strategies for jaw clicking vary greatly based on the root cause and the intensity of symptoms the person is encountering. Here are some common approaches used to address jaw clicking:

  • Self-Care and Lifestyle Changes:

Simple self-care measures can provide relief for mild cases of jaw clicking, such as practicing relaxation techniques, avoiding excessive gum chewing, and applying warm compresses to the affected area.

  • Dental Treatments and Procedures:

Depending on the cause of jaw clicking, dental interventions like orthodontic treatment, dental splints or mouthguards, or dental restorations may be recommended to align the bite and alleviate the symptoms.

  • Medications for Pain Relief and Inflammation:

Healthcare providers may prescribe NSAIDs, muscle relaxants, or corticosteroids to alleviate pain, diminish inflammation, and relax muscle tension linked to jaw clicking.

  • Physical Therapy and Jaw Exercises:

Jaw exercises and physical therapy programs, supervised by professionals, can help strengthen the jaw muscles, improve range of motion, and provide relief from jaw clicking.

  • Stress Management Techniques:
  • Stress and tension can aggravate jaw clicking. Adopting successful stress reduction methods, like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or therapy, can help in lessening muscle tightness and easing related symptoms.

Prevention Tips to Reduce Jaw Clicking

While it may not always be possible to prevent jaw clicking entirely, implementing certain measures can help minimize the risk and reduce the occurrence of symptoms. Consider the following prevention tips:

  • Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene
  • Avoiding Excessive Gum Chewing
  • Using Relaxation Techniques to Manage Stress
  • Wearing a Nightguard for teeth-grinding
  • Seeking Prompt Treatment for Injuries or Dental Problems

By employing these preventative strategies, individuals can actively contribute to their oral health and possibly decrease the frequency of jaw clicking.

When to Seek Professional Help

While occasional jaw clicking may not require immediate professional intervention, there are instances where seeking medical or dental help is highly recommended. Watch out for the following signs that indicate the need for professional assessment and intervention:

  • Persistent or Worsening Jaw Clicking:

If the jaw clicking persists or worsens despite self-care and preventive measures, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation.

  • Severe Pain or Discomfort:

If the jaw clicking is accompanied by severe pain or discomfort that affects daily activities or quality of life, professional assistance should be sought.

  • Difficulty Eating or Speaking:

When jaw clicking interferes with normal eating or speaking, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional for a comprehensive evaluation and guidance.

  • Lockjaw or Inability to Fully Open or Close the Mouth:

In rare cases, jaw clicking may progress or be accompanied by lockjaw, a condition where the jaw becomes temporarily immobilized. Immediate medical or dental attention is necessary in such situations.

Keep in mind, timely consultation with a professional can pave the way for prompt intervention and proper management, possibly averting more serious issues in the future. For personalized TMJ treatment in The Colony, TX, trust the experts at Main Dentistry to provide comprehensive care for your oral health.


In summary, experiencing clicking in the jaw while chewing is a concerning and often uncomfortable issue that necessitates a thorough understanding of its causes, symptoms, and potential treatments.

This issue may emerge from multiple origins, such as misalignment of the TMJ, trauma to the jaw, habitual teeth grinding, arthritis, or stress, presenting itself through noticeable clicking, discomfort, mobility challenges, headaches, or even problems related to the ear.

It is vital for individuals facing these symptoms to seek professional evaluation, which typically involves a comprehensive physical examination, review of dental and medical history, and possibly imaging tests. Treatment approaches might encompass home remedies, dental treatments, medications, physical therapy, specific exercises for the jaw, or strategies for stress reduction. Preventative care, including regular dental check-ups and cleanings, is key to maintaining oral health and catching potential problems early. Reach out to Main Dentistry today, the best dentist in The Colony TX to get your all dental needs addressed.

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