I’ve noticed that quite a few people go online and search for information on jaw clicking and popping and whether it is an indicator of a problem with the TMJ. The short answer may surprise you. That answer is “No”.
Jaw clicking and popping is not an indicator of TMJ/TMD problems. Many people have jaws that click and pop and they do not have jaw pain nor TMJ.
The National Institute of Health made this clear in a recent research summary of TMJ:
“There is no scientific proof that clicking sounds in the jaw joint lead to serious problems. In fact, jaw clicking is common in the general population. Jaw noises alone, without pain or limited jaw movement, do not indicate a TMJ disorder and do not warrant treatment.” The NIH on TMJ
Did you get that? Jaw clicking is common and is not an indicator of a problem. What is a problem is that most people will not get an opportunity to read what the NIH has written. Do a Google search for “tmj clicking sounds” and what you will find is people telling you that clicking is a problem. You will find passages such as this:
“One of the most common signs of a TMJ problem is a temporomandibular joint which is making noise such as clicking, popping or grating sounds.” Or: “Clicking, popping, or snapping in the jaw joint is the most common symptom of TMJ. There may or may not be pain in the jaw when the clicking or popping sound is heard. The clicking sound may even be so loud that others can hear it when you chew or speak.”
(heavy sigh). I took the two passages above from the websites of dentists who are treating TMJ. Treating TMJ with what? Expensive devices? Invasive surgery? I’m not sure that I want to know. As I have noted before there are strong doubts as to the efficacy of TMJ dentists and surgery of any type. See: TMJ Dentists and TMJ Surgery Alternatives.