Joint sounds are one of the most commonly reported symptom among people seeking treatment for TMJ. It may be accompanied by jaw pain, headaches, and many other symptoms of the condition, but many people don’t understand what causes these sounds.


Clicking is the most commonly reported TMJ sound. It’s a sharp, rapid sound that occurs as you are opening your jaw.

The sound is caused by slipping of the disk that is supposed to cushion the interface between your jaw bone and skull. This disk may be displaced forward in TMJ sufferers, but at some point your jaw opens wide enough that it creates space for the disk to slip back into place, which is the clicking sound.

Sometimes people also experience a sound when the disk slips back out of place.


Other people describe their jaw as popping during opening. This is basically the same sound, but it may sound different because of the resonance of your mouth, the point at which the disk moves back into place, or just because you hear sounds slightly different than others. It may even be exactly the same sound, but you describe it differently.


If you are suffering from a more advanced case of TMJ, you may not hear that clicking, or that may not be the only sound you hear. You may hear crepitus, a scientific word for grinding. This may show that the cushioning disk has either been damaged by injury, disease, or wear so that it’s no longer doing its job of keeping the joint cushioned. It may also occur when the disk has been displaced so long that the ligament behind it that gets pulled in to play the cushioning role has become damaged. This may be very painful.

If you are hearing sounds in your jaw joint, and want to learn how to stop them and have a healthy, comfortable, quiet bite, please call (303) 691-0267 at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado in Denver.