Lockjaw And TMJ Problems

Every so often, when a patient yawns or open their mouth wide to yell or laugh, or bites down too hard, a condition known as lockjaw may occur. The patient may than find it impossible to close or open their mouth, depending on which position of the temporomandibular joint was over flexed. 


Lockjaw, or Trismus, is a condition when you cannot move your jaws from a position that they have been stuck in. It is a quite frequently occurring issue. The reason is because of the mechanisms of the temporomandibular joint. The TMJ is a ball and socket joint, and the ball moves out of the socket when the mouth opens. Openit to wide or too fast and the joint can become stuck outside of the socket. There are literally hundreds of reasons and causes of lockjaw, and just a single one is enough to make sure that the condition shows itself. Infections and traumas of various sorts are all candidates for causing lockjaw.


Lockjaw is usually caused by the ligaments holding the joint in place become too loose. That is why the jaw can be overstretched without the patient feeling pain from overstretching.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The dentist will be more than able to diagnose lockjaw, but in order to treat it, he will need to first take an x-ray of the affected area. Once this has been done, treatment can commence. One of the ways to treat lockjaw is to deal with it manually, but this can only occur in certain cases. On occasion, the dentist will be able to just pop the joint back into the socket. Usually, however, a device will be needed, and on occasion, muscle relaxants will need to be prescribed, and the joint will only return to its former place gradually, over a period of time. All of this occurs, of course, under local anaesthetic. 

Most often patients only experience trismus once or twice during their entire lives. Some patients may have a reoccurrence of the condition, and if this happens, then a surgical intervention may need to happen to fix the problem once and for all. 


If lockjaw occurs because of loose ligaments, there are several things you can do, like putting your hand under your chin when you yawn or laugh very hard, which may stop the condition from recurring. If the lockjaw happens as a result of trauma or infection, then there is nothing to be done, as the contraction of disease or injury is well beyond the help of medical expertise, and is very rarely intentional.

If you are having problems opening or closing your mouth, call your dentist immediately, as lockjaw is a serious condition, and may cause undue pain and damage to a very important joint, one that helps you with eating and speaking.