What causes Lockjaw?

April 29, 2022 - toothbar - 0 comments What causes Lockjaw?
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Facial pain, headaches, jaw popping, difficulty opening and closing the mouth are symptoms of lockjaw. One of the primary causes of black lockjaw is infection. If you experience these symptoms, schedule an appointment with Toothbar, a cosmetic dentistry practice in Austin Texas that can treat lockjaw to improve appearance and function.

What is a lockjaw?

Lockjaw occurs when swollen muscles around the jawbone restrict the ability to open the mouth. Swollen and inflamed muscles contract, causing severe pain and spasms. Sufferers of this condition find it difficult to speak, eat, swallow, and move their jaws. Although some can perform these actions, they do so painfully and slowly. The sufferers have to endure living with a rigid and stiff jaw constantly. Other symptoms include:

  1. Headaches
  2. Earache and ringing in the ears
  3. Popping or clicking of the jaw
  4. Clenching of the teeth
  5. Malocclusion
  6. Facial pain

These symptoms could all be signs of lockjaw. The Austin cosmetic dentists at Toothbar offer treatments, like Jaw Botox, to get you back on track.


During a muscle spasm, the muscle remains in its active position and cannot relax, causing a lockjaw. Several factors can cause lockjaw:

  1. Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ): This condition is the leading cause of lockjaw. TMJ aids in chewing and speaking by connecting your lower jawbone to your skull. When there is a disorder in this joint, it causes lockjaw. There are several causes of TMJ disorders, including inflammatory diseases, arthritis, and facial injuries.
  2. Infections: An infection in the jaw muscles or mouth, especially if it is an abscess, can make moving the jaw difficult. Also, infections of the oral cavity, such as tonsillitis, can sometimes cause lockjaw. In rare cases, an infection can permanently damage your muscles or nerves. If so, you may experience recurring episodes of lockjaw.
  3. Tetanus: When Clostridium tetani spores enter the bloodstream, tetanus occurs. It is an environmental neurotoxin that is life-threatening. It can cause muscle spasms. There is a significant connection between lockjaw and tetanus, and the condition may not clear up for weeks or even months.}
  4. Cancer: Radiation therapy or carcinoma removal, surgery, and other radiation treatments for cancer may damage the jaw structure and limit its movement. Studies suggest that you have about a 30% chance of developing lockjaw if you have head or neck cancer or have undergone treatment for these types of cancer. Other causes include:
  5. Malocclusion: Sometimes, yawning or chewing can cause unnecessary stress to the jaw, face, and neck. In this condition, the top teeth do not line up correctly (malocclusion), causing nearby muscles to become inflamed, irritated, and tense. This results in a locking sensation.
  6. Injuries: The jaw consists of bone, muscles, and cartilage. The cartilage keeps the jawbone from rubbing against the skull. An accident, clenching, or grinding can damage this cartilage. The cartilage can slip over the bone when damaged, preventing the hinge joint from working.
  7. Side Effects: Lockjaw can also rarely be a side effect of some medications, such as those used for mental disorders.


A variety of aspects of lockjaw can negatively impact the quality of life. Lockjaw can make it more difficult to communicate. With the mouth partially closed, it is hard to speak clearly. Moreover, lockjaw can reduce the size of the resonating oral cavity, reducing the voice quality. A severe lockjaw makes the insertion of dentures difficult or impossible. When the mouth opening is too small, it may be difficult to see the site properly during an examination. Lockjaw compromises oral hygiene, makes swallowing and chewing difficult, and contributes to aspiration. So, schedule an appointment with an Austin Cosmetic Dentist today. You can visit Toothbar, the Austin Dental Center in downtown Austin.

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