Jaw joint problems - Lauren's story

A woman sipping a hot drink

Lauren talks about the problems she has had with her jaw

I never had any trouble with my jaw, but when I was about 28 years old, I started to notice a clicking noise when I was eating. As the clicking got more frequent, sometimes when I did something like yawn, my jaw would feel out of place and lock open. This always tended to sort itself relatively quickly. I would rub the right-hand side of my jaw where it had locked, and eventually the movement would come back. It was painful though! Really I should have gone to see my dentist then.

Every time it happened, it got more painful and took longer to regain mobility. Then, after about six months, my jaw locked open – but it didn’t go back to normal. So, I phoned 111 and was advised to go to A&E. Once I was there, I had an X-ray and found out my jaw had partially dislocated.

I was referred to the oral and maxillofacial department of a local hospital and went in a couple of days later. They explained I had disc displacement, where a thin disc in your jaw joint is out of place. They gave me exercises to get my jaw back into the correct position, and to strengthen the muscles around my jaw.

I was told that this was probably caused by stress – I had suffered a bereavement less than a year before – and grinding my teeth at night. So, I was advised to go to my dentist to have a mouth guard fitted, to wear at night. While my jaw healed, I was also told to avoid tough or chewy food, and to support my jaw when I yawned. I was also told to put my tongue to the roof of my mouth at intervals during the day, to help me avoid clenching my teeth.

Now, over two years later, my jaw still occasionally clicks, but it hasn’t locked again. I still avoid some foods, and if I spot the signs that it is getting sore, I run through the exercises I was taught. I wish I had gone to my dentist earlier. So if you’re experiencing problems or discomfort with your jaw, I would suggest seeking advice. There may be things you can do to manage the problem.

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