Do you have jaw problems? Has it been aching for a while now? If you’re having issues with your jaw clicking or tightening when you eat, speak, yawn, or open your mouth wide, you might be wondering what’s wrong.
The temporomandibular joint, also referred to as the TMJ, is the joint that regulates the movement of your jaw. TMD, or temporomandibular joint disorder, is a complicated mechanism that occurs when this joint does not function properly.
see, TMD is a complicated condition that needs the extensive knowledge and skills of a dentist like Dr. Camille Ampong in order to properly diagnose and treat it.
But what do the terms “jaw locking” and “jaw clicking” mean? What causes it, what can you do about it, and what should you do about it? Here’s everything you’ll need to know.
What is a lock jaw?
Lockjaw is a common term used by dental patients to describe the sensation of a locked jaw. Muscle spasms are a typical side effect of lockjaw . These spasms can impact the muscles in the face and jaw, tightening the joint and making the person feel as if their mouth is locked.
Call Ampong Dental to arrange an appointment if you’re having symptoms of a jaw problem. We’ll go through your symptoms and determine the best course of action for relieving the pain and annoyance of a locked jaw.
Jaw Locking and Jaw Clicking: A Sign of TMJ
The TMJ (temporomandibular joint) is a tiny, fragile joint positioned just behind each ear. This joint connects your jaw to your skull and allows you to speak, chew, and yawn by enabling you to move your mouth.
You may have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (often referred to as TMJ/TMD) if you’re having problems with your jaw clicking and locking.
TMJ/TMD is a condition in which the temporomandibular joint is injured or inflamed as a result of an injury, inflammatory disorders, or other factors. The temporomandibular joint, in normal conditions, acts as a smooth “hinge” that allows your jaw to move freely and organically.
Smooth movement is hampered when this joint gets inflamed or injured. This can lead to problems such as jaw clicking and locking, as well as making it difficult to open your mouth completely.
Discomfort in the jaw, aching and radiating pain around the ears, and trouble eating or pain during chewing are all frequent side effects. You may have TMJ/TMD if you have these symptoms, and it may be the right time to call Ampong Dental.
Aside from TMJ , locking, clicking, and tighething of the jaw may also be caused by the following:
Porcelain veneers are a durable, thin cap that may be applied to the tops and sides of teeth. Before attaching them. Although porcelain veneers are the same color as natural teeth, they can even be whitened to enhance the smile and give it more sparkle!
Stress, genetics, or dental issues such as misaligned teeth can all contribute to bruxism (teeth grinding) or clenching. Bruxism can happen when you’re sleeping. It can even happen when you’re awake, but you might not be aware of it.
Tightness or discomfort in the face, neck, and upper or lower jaw can be caused by bruxism. Headaches and earaches are other possible side effects.
Inflammation of soft tissues
Another extremely common and potential cause of lockjaw is soft tissue inflammation. Too much mouth usage or too much chewing, also known as over mastication, TMD or Temporomandibular joint disease, and other factors can cause inflammation in the soft tissue of the jaws.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory disorder. It affects all of the body’s muscles and joints. The jaw joint and surrounding tissues may be damaged by RA.
Treatment for TMJ disorders
Because treatment recommendations are based on what’s likely to be causing the problem, TMJ treatment might differ from person to person. Luckily for you, tailored fit treatments are where we at Ampong Dental pride ourselves.
Our dentist may initially inquire about your symptoms, medical history, and other factors in order to make a diagnosis. We may also perform an x-ray or CT scan to look for evidence of damage in the jaw joints.
Likewise, we can develop an appropriate treatment plan if we are certain that we have identified one or more causes of TMD or another condition.
Depending on your situation a treatment plan might involve any of the following:
Jaw pain, clicking, and other TMJ symptoms may fade without therapy if there’s no significant underlying problem, but you don’t have to suffer in the meantime. The following are methods to alleviate pain and relax your jaw joints:
- Avoiding foods that are hard, crunchy, or chewy,
- Not chewing gum,
- Not grinding or clenching your teeth,
- Not opening your mouth too wide, and,
- Putting an ice pack or cold compress depending on the case.
If your TMJ is caused by stress or other psychological factors, you may go after a counseling service or look for relaxation techniques such as at-home breathing exercises or relaxation massage.
Exercising your jaw
Working on strengthening your jaw muscles with regular exercises may help to alleviate TMJ symptoms if they are weak. This should only be done under the supervision of a dentist, since overworking the jaw muscles might exacerbate your symptoms.
Although there is no particular medication for TMD, it may be helpful in controlling symptoms or addressing the underlying problem.
Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications may aid in the management of TMJ pain and discomfort. If your dentist or doctor believes it would help, they may prescribe a muscle relaxant. If your TMD is caused by a health issue, you should stick to your treatment plan because the symptoms may decrease with time.
A dentist may prescribe orthodontic or dental treatment to address your TMJ pain if it is caused by a poor bite. This might entail:
- Using braces to bring your teeth into appropriate alignment over time.
- Using crowns or fillings to repair damaged or worn teeth.
- Using fillings, and veneers to reshape or replace misalign crowns.
Treatment for bruxism
If you have bruxism, you may be able to get relief from your TMJ symptoms by treating it. Treatment options depend on what’s causing you to grind or clench your teeth.
In order to avoid uncomfortable circumstances, dental or orthodontic treatments are used to align the teeth. Here at Ampong Dental, we create the best personalized splint and mouthguard for you to prevent your teeth from rubbing together.
If any of the above treatments do not solve your TMJ, jaw surgery may be recommended for more severe instances of TMD, but this is rare. Your surgeon will go through the risks of complications with you so you can determine if this is the correct procedure for you. TMJ can also be caused by injuries to the jaw or joints, which may require surgery.
If these remedies don’t help you open and close your jaw, it’s time to see a dentist to figure out what’s wrong. Ampong Dental is glad to assist you in resolving your lockjaw symptoms so you may continue your pain-free life!
Preventing Lock Jaw and Other TMJ Disorders
There are 3 main methods for preventing lock jaw:
- Massage your muscle jaws.
- Keep a good posture.
- Maintain proper oral hygiene.
Let’s take a closer look at each of them.
Massage your muscle jaws
First, you can do this by putting your index (pointer) and middle fingers on your cheekbone. Run your fingers along the length of your masseter muscle, which ends at the bottom of your jaw. Find places that are sensitive or tight as you move your fingers. For 30 seconds, massage these regions in a circular manner with your fingertips. Do this two to three times each day.
When you’re stressed or out of habit, try not to clench your jaw. This will aid in the relaxation of your jaw muscles.
Bruxism, TMD, and stress are just a few of the factors that can produce a tight, painful jaw. Some at-home remedies may help relieve or avoid discomfort and stiffness.
However, your problem might worsen if you don’t seek proper treatment, causing you even more pain, suffering, and difficulty. So don’t put it off any longer!
Contact us immediately if you require assistance, with Dr Camille Ampong, a TMJ specialist, and our team at Ampong Dental, we assure you that we have the best strategic key to unlock your lock jaw.