There are several types of jaw noises TMD patients may hear when opening and closing their mouth, such as:

  • Clicking
  • Popping
  • Crepitus
  • Sand paper sounds

When you open and close your mouth in a normal TMJ, the condyle can move frontward away from the ear or backward toward the ear. If the disk is not herniated, then the joint should not make a sound as the jaw is opened.

But if the ligaments responsible for tethering the disk over the condyle are torn or stretched because of trauma or disease, the disk may herniate when the jaw is closed. When the jaw opens a popping or clicking sound is heard by the patient as the condyle recaptures the disk. When the jaw closes again, the disk slips off of the condyle again, and a pop may be heard on closure.

Sometimes a click has been present for months or years. Then one day the click is gone. If the click is gone, then the disk has returned to normal alignment over the condyle or it has become locked in front of the condyle. It is more likely the disk has locked than returned to normal if a click as been present for a long time.


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