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Why is My Jaw Locking?

Jaw locking is one of the symptoms of a temporomandibular disorder (TMD). It’s a disorder that affects the TMJ (temporomandibular joint), which connects your jaw and skull’s temporal bones. TMJ lets you move your jaw from side to side or up and down. It also allows you to talk, chew and yawn.

What may cause TMD?

The primary cause of TMD isn’t known yet. But we believe that the symptoms occur because of some issues in your jaw muscles or parts of the joints. If you experience an injury to your jaw, head or neck, it can cause TMD.

Other causes of a locked jaw will include the following:
• Grinding of teeth. Doing so will put extreme pressure on your TMJ.
• There’s movement in the disc found between the socket and the ball of the joint.
• You have arthritis in the joint.
• Stress may cause tightening of facial and jaw muscles.

Symptoms of TMD

Having a locked jaw can cause severe pain and discomfort. It can last for days or many years. This condition is more common in women than in men. And people in 20s, 30s and 40s are more prone to have this condition.

Joint pain in the jaw is felt. It’s one of the most common symptoms of TMD. You’ll feel pain in your face. Pain is also felt in and around the ear when you chew or open your mouth.

You’ll also experience problems when opening your mouth wide. You’ll also hear popping or grating sounds in the jaw joint when you chew or open/close your mouth.

What are the treatment options for a locked jaw?

To treat a locked jaw, your muscles should relax so they can return to their normal position. You can correct your dislocated jaw without having to resort to muscle relaxants or aesthetics.

Some patients, on the other hand, may need to be injected with local anesthesia to the affected area. Then, they may have to receive a muscle relaxant to relax the muscle spasms. Typically, the muscle relaxant is given in a vein in the arm.

Should you call your dentist?

If you experience a locked jaw, you should visit your dentist immediately. Or you can go to a hospital emergency room to put back the joint in place.

How is it diagnosed?

Unfortunately, the symptoms of TMD are similar to the symptoms of other medical conditions, like tooth decay, sinus problems or gum diseases. For that reason, it’s difficult to diagnose it.

When you visit Dr. Kenneth Hill’s dental office, he’ll first ask about your health history and perform a physical examination. You may need to undergo an exam to test your bite or check your facial muscles for any issues.

A full face x-rays may be necessary to view your entire TMJ and teeth. It will help in ruling out other problems.

Ways to prevent it

A locked jaw can be stopped by opting to eat soft foods, like mashed potatoes, soup or scrambled eggs. It’s also important to avoid clenching your jaw or teeth. If you can, wear a mouth guard.

You should also avoid doing extreme jaw movements. For instance, you must keep chewing to a minimum level.

To know more about how to prevent a locked jaw and joint pain, please visit Kenneth Hill, DDS. He’s the expert in TMJ.

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