A locked jaw can be uncomfortable and concerning. There are several reasons why a person’s jaw may lock, including disorders of the temporomandibular joint, extreme stress, grinding the teeth during sleep, and a condition that causes the jaw to lock, known as tetanus.
A locked jaw can cause pain in the jaw and other areas of the body. The pain can be an uncomfortable tingle or throbbing that is nearly unbearable. The condition can lead to headaches, severe jaw pain, toothaches, and neck pain. Some people also experience neck pain in the nose and ears. Pain can intensify when you try to talk or yawn. Lockjaw pain can worsen when you yawn or chew.
Temporomandibular joint disorders, called TMJD or TMD, are the main causes of lockjaw. The condition affects the muscles in the mouth and jaw and causes pain in the face and ears. Individuals who suffer from this can manage pain with a liquid diet or by consuming soft foods that don’t require much chewing. Painkillers and a cold compress on the jaw can help ease the pain of TMJ or TMJD in between doctor visits.
People who are under extreme anxiety or stress can also experience lockjaw. During times of stress, people unconsciously clench their jaw and hold the position for prolonged periods which causes tension in the muscles.
Bruxism or grinding the teeth also leads to lockjaw. People whose teeth are positioned a certain way can grind their teeth at night causing strain on the jaw muscles. Teeth grinding can also be genetic or a stress response.
Tetanus, another name for lockjaw, is a very serious condition that should be treated right away. Tetanus is a bacterial infection that can cause difficulty swallowing, abdomen pain, and contraction of the muscles in the neck and jaw.
Medications such as painkillers and anesthetics are often prescribed to treat the pain associated with tetanus. If the jaw muscles are locked due to tetanus, a dentist will prescribe an antibiotic to eliminate the infection. The dentist will also recommend stretching exercises or a mouth guard to keep the jaw and teeth intact while you sleep.
If you’re suffering from a locked jaw, the professional team at Austin Dental Center’s Toothbar is here to help. You’ll receive a thorough evaluation as well as treatments that will reduce your pain and improve your dental health. If you’re in the Downtown Austin area, search for “cosmetic dentist near me and make your appointment today through our contact page or contact Austin Dental Center at 512.949.8202.
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