Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder (TMD) produces a number of painful and concerning symptoms. But perhaps the most frightening one is a locked jaw. This occurs when the articular disc that sits between the upper and lower jaws slips or moves out of alignment. A jaw can lock in an open or closed position momentarily or for an extended period of time.
Here, West Orange dentist and TMJ specialist Dr. Ivan Stein shares advice on how to deal with a locked jaw.
Why Does the Jaw Lock?
The TMJ is the joint that allows you to complete everyday tasks like talking, chewing, yawning and laughing. If the TMJ becomes misaligned, the jaw muscles become inflamed, or the ligaments holding the TMJ in place stretch out, the joint loses its ability to move properly. Over time, the articular disc that holds the upper and lower jaws in place can dislocate, causing the lower or upper jaw to lock in a closed or open position. Prior to jaw lock, patients may notice stiffness, a popping noise or pain when moving the jaw.
What To Do If Your Jaw Locks
If your jaw locks, there a few things you can do at home to try and release it. First, try to relax and keep calm; panicking will most likely add to tension in your jaw. If possible, place your jaw in between your palms and gently wiggle the jaw from side to side, and back and forth. This may be enough to help the slipped disc pop back into place. If this does not work, applying heating pads to the sides of your jaw may help relax the muscles enough for you to pop the disc back into place. If you can’t pop the jaw back with relative ease, do not force it to move. Instead, seek medical attention immediately.
Even if you are able to unlock your jaw on your own, it is important to seek help from a TMJ specialist who can evaluate you and recommend a proper treatment plan to prevent further damage. Dr. Stein of Headache and TMJ Center of New Jersey has years of experience evaluating and treating TMD symptoms, including locked jaw. He can design a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.
To learn more about TMJ disorder and the treatment options Dr. Stein offers, schedule a consultation. Contact the Headache and TMJ Center of New Jersey by calling (855) 865-3627 or emailing us today.