My jaw cracks. Is it dangerous?
A sudden cracking of the jaw can occur just as unexpectedly in the quiet of a room as when you bite into a crisp apple with pleasure. When is it harmless, and when could it be a sign of serious problems?
The characteristic jaw clicking occurs when the disc, a cartilaginous disk between the two joint surfaces, moves from its normal position in and on the bone. The noise is often thunderous since the jaw joint is located directly in front of the ear.
The underlying asynchrony between the position of the jaw joint and the activity of the jaw muscles can be caused by various factors. The most harmless trigger is probably excessive gum chewing. But psychological stress that leads to unconscious grinding of teeth or jaw clenching is also not uncommon. More severe reasons include misaligned teeth or functional disorders within the jaw joint, such as a displaced disc or osteoarthritis.
What you should pay attention to
In most cases, an occasional jaw cracking is entirely harmless as long as it is not accompanied by other discomfort or pain.
On the other hand, you should take any accompanying pain, reduced jaw mobility or changes in how the teeth meet seriously. Additional symptoms such as persistent headaches, ringing in the ears, or difficulty chewing can be warning signs of more complex problems that require immediate evaluation.