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What is trismus (jaw locking)?

Trismus refers to a condition that restricts the normal opening movement of the jaw muscles. As a result, the mouth cannot open fully and the jaw feels locked. Trismus can occur for a variety of reasons and is usually caused by problems in the mouth, jaw or surrounding tissues. Symptoms can include restricted jaw movement, pain, difficulty chewing and a condition that causes pain when the mouth is open.

What is trismus (jaw locking)?

Treatment of trismus is based on identifying the underlying cause and is often associated with treatment of the underlying problem. It is therefore important to be assessed by a health professional and to determine the appropriate treatment.

Why does trismus occur?

Trismus is a condition that restricts jaw movement and can occur for many different reasons. Here are common causes of trismus:

  • Problems in the jaw joint, especially displacement of the joint cap or wear on the joint surfaces, can lead to trismus.
  • Toothache, tooth decay, gingivitis and complications after tooth extractions can cause jaw muscle spasms and trismus.
  • Spasms in the muscles in the bowl area can restrict jaw movement.
  • Masses or tumors in the tissues around the jaw can cause trismus by limiting jaw movement.
  • A blow to the face, fractures or injury to soft tissues can cause trismus.
  • Infections and abscesses in the tissues around the throat can lead to inflammation of the jaw muscles and trismus.
  • Infections in the mouth, teeth or surrounding tissues can spread to the jaw muscles and cause trismus.
  • Rheumatic diseases affecting the jaw joints can lead to the development of trismus.

What are the Symptoms of Trismus?

Trismus is a condition characterized by restricted jaw movement. Symptoms of this condition can vary from individual to individual and may differ depending on the underlying causes. However, the following symptoms can usually indicate the presence of trismus:

Restricted Jaw Movement: The most basic symptom is restricted jaw movement. The individual cannot open the mouth fully and may feel as if the jaw is locked.

Pain and Discomfort: Trismus is usually associated with pain and discomfort in the surrounding tissues. This pain may be felt in the jaw, face or throat area.
Chewing Difficulty: Trismus can lead to chewing difficulties due to restricted jaw movement. This can negatively affect feeding and swallowing processes.

Difficulty Swallowing: In addition to difficulty chewing, trismus can also cause difficulty swallowing. This can occur especially if the jaw is locked, preventing food from passing normally.

Pain with Mouth Open: Pain when the mouth is open or when the jaw moves can be one of the symptoms of trismus.

Speech Difficulty: Trismus can lead to speech difficulty due to restricted jaw movement. Smooth sound production and word pronunciation may be affected.

Spasms in the cheek muscles: Trismus can be associated with spasms in the cheek muscles. This can contribute to symptoms by restricting jaw movement.

Symptoms of the Underlying Cause:

How to relieve a locked jaw

Jaw locking (trismus) is a condition that usually occurs due to underlying causes. Therefore, treating a locked jaw mainly involves treating the underlying cause. Here are some general strategies that can be used to relieve a locked jaw:

Determining the Underlying Cause: An evaluation should be done by a health care professional to determine the root cause of a locked jaw. This will help determine the correct treatment strategy for a locked jaw.

Medication Treatment: Jaw locking is usually associated with inflammation. Medications to be used on the advice of your doctor can relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

Hot or Cold Application:
Jaw Exercises: If recommended by your doctor, doing jaw exercises can improve jaw mobility. However, it is important to get instructions from a specialist before practicing these exercises.

Treatment of Dental Problems:
Stress Avoidance: Stress can be a factor that tends to tighten the jaw muscles. Reducing stress through relaxation techniques, stress reduction methods such as yoga or meditation can contribute to jaw locking.

Updated Date:09 January 2024Creation Date:25 December 2023