Lockjaw Syndrome: How To Recognize the Symptoms and Seek Treatment

Lockjaw Syndrome: How To Recognize the Symptoms and Seek Treatment

Lockjaw Syndrome: How To Recognize the Symptoms and Seek Treatment

Have you ever experienced jaw locking or difficulty opening your mouth? This can be a sign of lockjaw syndrome.

The causes of lockjaw syndrome vary, including poor posture, bruxism (teeth grinding), jaw injury or trauma, arthritis, and stress. This article will discuss the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of lockjaw syndrome.

What Is Lockjaw Syndrome?

Lockjaw syndrome is a condition that causes pain and stiffness in the jaw. The symptoms can be mild or severe and may come and go over time. In some cases, the pain may radiate to the ears or face.

People who suffer from lockjaw syndrome may experience difficulty opening and closing their mouths and pain when doing so. They may also have trouble eating solid foods or talking.

Symptoms of Lockjaw Syndrome

The symptoms of lockjaw syndrome can vary from person to person. Common symptoms include:

  • Jaw pain and stiffness in the muscles
  • Difficulty opening and closing the mouth
  • Pain when eating or speaking
  • Tenderness or swelling in the jaw area
  • Headaches near the temples or behind
  • Clicking sound when opening the jaws

Depending on the severity, you may also experience lockjaw syndrome on one side of your face or both sides.

5 Possible Jaw Locking Reasons

When treating and diagnosing lockjaw syndrome, it is essential to identify the underlying cause. Here are five possible causes of lockjaw syndrome.

1. Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ)

Lockjaw syndrome may point to a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). This is when the joints connecting the jaw bone to the skull are damaged or out of alignment.

The exact cause of TMJ is often hard to determine, but it is thought to be the result of a misalignment of the jaw or damage to the joints that connect the jaw to the skull. In some cases, TMJ may be caused by teeth grinding or clenching, which puts pressure on the joints and muscles. 

2. Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

Teeth grinding, or bruxism is a common problem that can cause various symptoms, including jaw pain, headaches, and difficulty chewing. While many people are aware of the damage that teeth grinding can cause to the teeth, few realize that it can also lead to jaw locking.

This is because the repetitive clenching of the jaw causes strain and tightens the muscles in the area. Over time, this can cause the jaw to become misaligned and prevent it from opening and closing properly.

3. Stress

woman in white crew-neck T-shirt holding her head

Stress is another possible lockjaw cause. When you’re stressed, your body responds by tightening up, including your jaw muscles.

The muscles in the jaw can become so tight that they prevent you from opening or closing your mouth normally. This can cause pain, discomfort when eating or speaking, and difficulty opening the mouth.

4. Tetanus

Tetanus is a bacterial infection that can cause severe jaw pain and lockjaw syndrome. Clostridium tetani bacteria causes the toxin tetanospasmin to be released in the body, leading to muscle spasms and stiffness.

These muscle spasms can affect the jaw muscles, causing them to tighten so much that the mouth cannot open or close.

5. Arthritis

Arthritis can also cause jaw locking and pain. Arthritic inflammation in the jaw joint can prevent you from opening or closing your mouth correctly. This may be accompanied by pain and stiffness in the jaw area.

Other illnesses such as thyroid disease, jaw tumors, and dental problems can also cause lockjaw syndrome.

Jaw Lock Treatment and Diagnosis

Fortunately, lockjaw syndrome can be alleviated with various treatments, especially if you have TMJ or bruxism. Sometimes, a good dental hygiene regimen and jaw exercises can relieve the pain.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of lockjaw syndrome, it is vital to seek medical attention. Your medical professional can help to identify the underlying cause and recommend the appropriate treatment.


Lockjaw syndrome is a severe condition that can cause pain and difficulty eating and speaking. It is essential to be aware of the symptoms and possible causes so that you can seek treatment as soon as possible.

Remi offers custom night guards to help relieve jaw pain and lockjaw syndrome. Our night guards are designed to be comfortable and provide maximum protection while you sleep.

We also offer dental products to help keep your teeth healthy and protected from the damage caused by grinding and clenching.

If you think you may suffer from lockjaw syndrome, shop Remi’s selection of night guards and dental products to help you alleviate your pain.

Ana has worked for the past two years at Remi. She is a California-native and proud San Franciscan. Ana Milian RDA Head Dental Technician

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