I have been told that I have TMD. I am 17 and have dealt with lock jaw for over three years now. It usually just clicks, but the other day it was really bothering me. So I decided to use an old sports mouth piece I had to avoid clenching. When I removed it, my jaw locked. When I went into the dentist, they said they wanted to do an impression so a splint could be made. It should be a few more days but then I should have the splint. I just don’t know if I can take it any longer. My articular disc is out of place and has been locked up for a couple days now. I have been taking anti-inflammatory drugs and wearing that mouth guard to help.
Is there anything else that can be done to keep my jaw from being locked? Do you know any tricks to unlock it?
– Leslie in North Carolina
Individuals that suffer from lock jaw have a condyle that doesn’t return to the proper position. The condyle is the head of the lower jaw and the disc that separates the skull from the condyle is the articular disc. This sounds like what is troubling you and causing your temporomandibular joint dysfunction. Sometimes this painful condition can last up to two weeks. And the most common TMJ treatment is anti-inflammatory drugs and in some cases muscle relaxers. Individuals with TMJ / TMD may do better eating soft foods if their jaw gets locked up. Heat and ice may help periodically, as well to reduce the inflammation.
The splint is a TMJ treatment that will reposition the condyle into a better position in correlation with the disc. You may notice some popping and clicking on occasion but hopefully your symptoms are noticeably improved. When the splint treatment doesn’t work, you may need to consider seeing a TMJ dentist or TMJ specialist that can explore your options. Sometimes surgery is recommended to reposition the disc for the best long-term function. There is much training that is required beyond dental school to treat this condition well, so be sure to make sure your dentist has TMJ credentials and proven treatment success.
Here are some tips to avoid increased aggravation of the TMJ and the muscles around it.
- Relaxation exercises (yoga or meditation) work well for some.
- Avoid gum.
- Soft foods will help and stay away from chewy/sticky food.
- Try not to open your mouth all the way when yawning if possible.
- When you are awake, do not grind or clench.
- At night, be sure to wear your splint. This is when most grinding and clenching take place. But don’t use the splint as a long-term solution because issues with bite alignment may become apparent.
- Orthodontics may correct the alignment of teeth if this is a cause for the TMJ dysfunction.
This post is sponsored by Newton MA cosmetic dentist Ultimate Aesthetics.