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Dentistry/Jaw Popping

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Question
QUESTION: My jaw has been popping since I got one wisdom tooth removed last week. The popping occurs when I open my mouth. It's like I can feel the joint shifting. I've never had such an issue before. What could be the cause of this and who should I call to address the concern?

ANSWER: Michele - It is not unusual to have some affect to the joint after the extraction of wisdom teeth. Often the jaw muscles go into spasm and this can alter the normal joint function producing the popping

You definitely need to have the area examined by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.  If the surgeon was the one who extracted the tooth, get back to him.  If not done by a surgeon, have one examine you now.

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

QUESTION: Thank you for your initial response.
So do you think this is normal? Can I rule out TMJ? I've been reading a lot about TMJ and it's getting me very worried.

Answer
Michele - TMJ (temporomandibular joint) problems that develop after an extraction usually resolves after the extraction as long as the surgery was not traumatic to the joint and if the bite has not changed.  Initially, an attempt at relaxing the jaw muscles, that allow any pressure to the joint created from the surgery to reduce, is done by simply rinsing the area of the extraction with warm salt water.  Often the jaw muscles attach near wisdom teeth and the muscles easily become slightly inflamed and produce some symptoms.  If, however, after doing the warm salt water rinses nothing changes within 7-10 days of doing the rinsing, seeing a doctor familiar with TMJ evaluation would be appropriate.  Unfortunately, not many general dentists are skilled in this evaluation and yet many attempt it.  For that reason, if the symptoms continue, make an appointment with a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon to evaluate the area.

I wish you well and hope the popping just resolves and no further treatment is needed.

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Joel S. Teig, DMD, Diplomate ABOMS, retired

Expertise

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.

Experience

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

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

Education/Credentials
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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