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Dentistry/Jaw Locking and poping


QUESTION: I have the jaw locking and poping issues for more than a year now, and it seems getting more frequently and a little more locked.  My dentist suggested me to get a guard, but I declined due to the fact that I do not grind at night so the guard thing will not be a proper solution.  

So my questions are:
1. what are other possiblities / causes to my jaw issues?
2. What are the solutions and my options and their pros and cons?
3. If I choose to leave it and not to deal with it, would I be subject to any health risks or other illness or injuries to other parts of my body?  

Please assist.  Your advice is appreciated.  Thank you.

ANSWER: Christine - Chronic jaw locking can develop early from spasms of the jaw muscles pulling the jaw up tight against the skull and not allowing the normal movements.  Repeated or chronic episodes will often develop an irritation within the jaw joint produce a stickiness to the natural lubricating fluids within the joint.  This stickiness will restrict the normal movements within the joint of the cartilage.  If this occurs and the cartilage does not move, the jaw will repeatedly get locked.  If left alone, this problem will get worse and worse, and eventually the joint will degenerate into bone problems and severe arthritis that could completely prevent normal jaw movements.  

You need to be examined and helped by the appropriate doctor.  Your dentist, like most dentists, are not skilled at diagnosing of treating this problem.  You need to be examined by a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon as soon as possible. If caught early it might be reversed, but if left, the area will degenerate and normal jaw movements will stop.

So you need to search for a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon.  If you are unable to find one, get back to me, tell me where you live and I will send you names of appropriate surgeons near you. Make sure to be examined soon.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Dr. Teig,

Thank you very much for your quick reply. I will take your advice to start to seek help now.  Would you be able to give me few good names whom I can trust?  I live in greater Boston area, Beth Isarel, New England, Tuff etc are all accessible to me.  Most importantly is whom should I go to.  Thank you so much again.


Christine - Fortunately, the Boston area has a number of board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeons who are highly skilled in TMJ problems.  The following is a list of a few:

1) Dr. Leonard Kaban - (617) 724-1646

2) Dr. Allen Tarro - (978) 454-5637

Both of a the above are highly skilled and knowledgeable specialists.

I wish you well and hope they can help you.


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Joel S. Teig, DMD, Diplomate ABOMS, retired


I am a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon and I am available to answer questions related to tooth extractions, implant insertion, facial recontruction, facial and oral tumor removal, TMJ dysfunction and various successful treatments, including surgery if all else fails, and occlusal discrepancy requiring orthognathic or jaw surgery.


Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon practicine for over 20 years. Assistant Clincal Professor and State University School of Dentistry.

American Dental Association, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

BA -University of Connecticut DMD - University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine

Awards and Honors
National Honor Society (OKU), Philadelphia County Dental Society, Mosby Book Award, Oral Surgery Honors, Summa Cum Laude

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