What Causes Cracking in Your Jaw
Jaw joint cracking, on the other hand, is caused by displacement of the cushioning cartilage. Your temporomandibular joint is a much more complicated joint, known as a condyloid joint, where the cushioning cartilage is not bound so tightly into place. It’s designed to have a little more freedom of movement to facilitate the complex motions of your jaw joint (your fingers just bend, while your jaw joint moves all over the place).
When the cartilage is displaced in the jaw joint, it might still cushion the two bones, but it’s unstable. At a certain point in its motion, it will slip back into place, which is what causes the click or pop. You’ll probably notice that your jaw tends to move irregularly along with the popping sound. You may also experience sharp jaw pain at this moment, though many people have more dull, aching muscular pain and don’t get sharp pains at this time.
Because jaw popping is linked to joint disc displacement, it can lead to jaw damage in a number of ways. First, this displacement stretches the ligament. Plus, it puts the ligament between the bones. This damages the ligament and may make it hard for the disc to slip back into place. If the disc can’t slip back into place, the jaw locks. In addition, when the disc isn’t in place, it does little or nothing to cushion the bones in the joint, which can lead to bone damage. As the bones grind, they can release tiny shards that irritate other tissues, leading to swelling, pain, and limited jaw movement.