When your jaw “locks” in either an open or a closed position, it can be both painful and frightening. Sometimes, people experience locking in the closed or biting position and aren’t able to open their mouths as widely as normal. In other cases, a jaw may be locked in the open position, leaving you unable to close your mouth. You may also experience what’s known as intermittent jaw locking, where your jaw locks but then you are able to almost immediately unlock it.
Jaw locking can cause pain in your face, neck, the back of your head and neck, the top of your head, pain behind your eyes, and tenderness. In addition to causing physical pain, people who experience jaw locking may have trouble chewing or speaking normally. Jaw locking can also make it much harder to take care of your teeth, so your oral hygiene may suffer which can, in turn, lead to tooth decay and other preventable dental problems.
What Causes Jaw Locking?
There are several reasons your jaw may be locking. This condition can occur as the result of a traumatic injury, or it can come on without any warning.
Locking of your jaw might occur because of any of the following:
- A reaction or side effect of medication you’re taking for another condition
- An infection around a wisdom tooth or another partially-erupted tooth
- Inflammation of the jaw muscle
- Jaw muscle spasms
- Torn disc alignment
- A broken jaw
- Tempomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ)
There are some self-care treatment options that may bring you relief from the symptoms of a locking jaw.
- First, as basic as it sounds, it can be helpful to try to relax. If you have experienced one or more episodes of your jaw locking in place, it can be stressful. That stress and frustration can only exacerbate the pain because you may be unintentionally clenching your jaw.
- Some people who experience problems with their jaws locking also find relief from applying moist heat to both sides of the jaw for 45 minutes. This can help relax the muscles of the jaw, bringing pain relief.
- It may also be helpful to wiggle your jaw around in different ways. This can make the jaw pop back into normal position. This does not always work for people, but it may be something worth trying if you are experiencing jaw locking and are not able to get in to see the dentist immediately.
- Finally, your dentist may offer other non-surgical treatments that can stop jaw locking and free you from pain. The best treatment for you will depend largely on your symptoms and circumstances.
Experiencing Jaw Locking? Contact Shallowford Dental.
If you have been experiencing symptoms of jaw locking or other pain and tenderness in your jaw, neck and shoulders or face, contact Shallowford Dental to schedule an appointment. We’ll review your symptoms and determine a treatment plan designed to get you relief from your pain and discomfort.
Contact us online, or call us in Marietta at (770) 578-1331 today.