Locked jaw or jaw locking is a symptom of temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD). TMJ is a joint connecting jaw bone to your face. It’s located under the ear. For that reason, the symptom is usually felt in this area.
When you have a locked jaw and joint pain, the next best step that you must do is to consult your dentist. TMD is the result of inflammation and irritation in the joint space. This dental problem is triggered by malocclusions or misalignment of your teeth. It is usually treated using splints. Other strategies will be discussed by your dentist.
To reduce any joint pain, your dentist will prescribe to reduce the pain. Sometimes, physical therapy is required to help you in getting back to functioning normally again. However, if your condition is severe, you’ll be referred to a surgeon as you may need to undergo a more invasive treatment.
The diagnosis of a TMD should only be done by a specialist in jaw disorders. At Reflections Dental, we have our dentists who can make a proper diagnosis of your condition.
What is TMD?
It’s a disorder affecting your temporomandibular joint or TMJ. As mentioned earlier, TMJ connects your lower jaw to your skull. TMD can cause pain and other dental problems like difficulty chewing.
The TM joints are found under your ear. You can feel them when you place your fingers in front of your ears and open your mouth. As your lower jaw glides, you feel the rounded ends of your lower jaw.
Disorders in this area can affect people of all ages. However, most patients with this condition are young women.
Signs and symptoms of TMD
The locked jaw is just one of the symptoms of TMD. Facial muscle pain and jaw joint pain can also arise if you have this condition. You can also feel pain in your neck and shoulders when you chew, yawn and talk. Muscle spasms may also occur occasionally.
Another symptom of TMD is that you’ll hear a popping or clicking sound when you close or open your mouth. However, if you hear it but you don’t have other symptoms, then your case may not be TMD. The best way to know it is to consult your dentist.
Tinnitus, headaches, ear pain and difficulty chewing are other symptoms of TMD. If your jaw is locked, it’s difficult for you to open your mouth.
What could be the cause of this condition?
Unfortunately, experts don’t know yet the real cause of TMD. However, there are some things that can contribute to this condition. If you have the habit of grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw, then you’re more likely to suffer from it.
The reason for this is that your jaw is overworked. If it does, it can easily wear down. Grinding and clenching can also cause some changes in your teeth to line up. They can affect your muscles when you chew.
Then, there’s stress. This, too, can cause symptoms of TMD to arise. It can cause you to grind your teeth or tighten your jaw muscles.
Having a bat bite, arthritis, and muscle problems can cause you to be more likely to have this condition. And if you have a history of trauma to your face, you may experience your jaw locking.
If you think you have TMD, you should let your dentist know about it. It’s a must that the disorder is diagnosed and treated earlier.
You may need to undergo an imaging test to see if you have indeed a TMJ disorder.
How is it treated?
Your joint pain may go away without any treatment. But you should not eat hard foods while recuperating. Instead, opt for soft foods.
It’s also a must that you avoid performing things that can only aggravate your condition, like clenching or grinding your teeth. You should also stop fully opening your mouth when you yawn.
For pain, you may apply some ice packs on your face to find relief.
On the other hand, if your jaw gets locked, you should go to an emergency room right away. Doctors can massage your jaw so you can open and close it again. During this process, a drug can be taken to make you feel comfortable while they’re manipulating your jaw.
Your dentist may also fit you a bite plate or a splint that you need to wear at night. This is especially true if the joint pain is the result of your jaw clenching or teeth grinding.
You may also take medicines that can relieve the pain or relax the facial muscles. If the TMD is caused by a bad bite, you may wear braces or undergo dental work to fix it.
Do you need surgery?
If you don’t respond to those treatments mentioned, you may need to undergo a surgical operation. This is to repair any damages into the tissues of your joint.
However, surgery is rarely necessary. Most patients don’t need it to treat their TMJ disorder.
To lessen the pain and other symptoms of TMD, it’s best to reduce what’s been causing you to feel stressed out. You may learn how to perform breathing exercises.
Even if you’re not stressed, you may still be grinding or clenching your teeth. Be aware of it and end it before you even start doing it again. You may seek training or counseling to eliminate any type of stress you may be experiencing now.
At Reflections Dental clinic, we can help your locked jaw and malocclusions. Visit us at: https://reflectionsdental.com