Jaw Locking Up? Discover the Unexpected Causes and Effective Solutions

Why Does My Jaw Keep Locking?

Woman improving her oral health by brushing her teeth


Have you ever experienced a sudden and painful occurrence where your jaw locks or gets stuck? This strange phenomenon can happen at any moment, seemingly out of nowhere, leaving many people wondering why their jaw keeps locking.

Unfortunately, eating or talking can be nearly impossible with a locked jaw, so it’s essential to understand the causes of this phenomenon and what you can do about it. This blog post will explore the root causes of this condition so you can understand what is happening and discover ways to alleviate your symptoms.

Common Causes of Jaw Locking

Jaw locking can cause pain or discomfort for a variety of reasons.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ)

Temporomandibular joint disorders, commonly known as TMJ, affect the junction between an individual’s jawbone and skull. This powerful connection is responsible for controlling jaw movement. However, TMJ can create extreme pain and discomfort.

TMJ can cause swelling, pain, and locking in the jaw area. Unchecked TMJ-triggered inflammation can immobilize the joint, further limiting the normal function needed for eating, swallowing, and speaking.

Muscle Spasms

When the jaw muscles become too tight, they can put pressure on the temporomandibular joint, causing it to lock. This sudden muscle spasm usually occurs due to intense teeth grinding or clenching, which are stress responses that people often do without realizing.

Trauma or Injury

Sometimes, jaw trauma or injury can cause jaw locking. This could be due to a sudden and intense blow, such as a punch, or it could result from an accident or fall. Whatever the cause, shock waves that reverberate through the joint can lead to chronic inflammation and discomfort, resulting in jaw locking.

Dental Issues

Some medical issues can also lead to jaw locking. A misaligned bite or malocclusion can cause your jaw’s upper and lower portions to not line up correctly. This improper alignment can create tension in the joint, making it stick or lock in place.

Other Medical Conditions

People with low calcium levels may also be more prone to jaw locking due to weakened muscles in the area. Additionally, arthritis and other general joint disorders can irritate the temporomandibular joint, resulting in pain and stiffness that can cause it to become locked.

Identifying Symptoms and Signs

With any of these causes, individuals may experience a range of symptoms and signs. Individuals with a locked jaw commonly have difficulty fully opening their jaw or report intense pain when they open or close it.

Additionally, many individuals find that the range of motion of their jaw is limited, and specific activities may cause discomfort.

Other symptoms include:

  • Earaches
  • Popping or clicking noises when chewing or talking
  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Jaw fatigue

Differentiating the symptoms from other conditions may be tricky. Additionally, stress or anxiety can cause jaw-locking, so paying attention to any other signs you might have is essential. A medical professional can help you better diagnose the underlying cause of your pain.

Self-help Techniques for Jaw Locking

Fortunately, there are various treatments for individuals dealing with jaw locking. To start, here are some tips to help you alleviate the symptoms:

  • Gentle jaw exercises: Doing gentle stretching and opening exercises for your jaw can help reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Relaxation techniques and stress management: You can relax your jaw by taking slow, deep breaths and learning how to meditate.
  • Heat or cold therapy: With either a hot or cold compress, you can help reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Temporary oral care remedies: Sometimes, night or mouth guards can help with jaw locking.
Custom Night Guards from ShopRemi.com

These self-help techniques are great for managing mild cases of TMJ and jaw locking. However, if your symptoms persist or worsen over time, see a dental professional for more advice.


Seeking Professional Help and Treatment Options

If you are experiencing jaw locking, seeking professional help and treatment options is important to alleviate the discomfort and prevent further complications.

One option is getting a custom night guard, to address any teeth grinding or clenching contributing to the issue. Orthodontic solutions like braces or clear aligners can also help realign the jaw and improve its function. Physical therapy and muscle relaxation techniques, such as stretching and massage, can effectively reduce muscle tension and promote jaw mobility. Moreover, medications and pain management may sometimes be necessary to manage symptoms. 

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Prevention Strategies for Jaw Locking

Preventing jaw locking is crucial to avoid discomfort and potential long-term damage to the jaw. Maintaining good oral hygiene is one essential prevention strategy. This includes brushing twice daily, flossing regularly, and using mouthwash to help prevent gum disease and tooth decay, which can contribute to jaw problems. 

Improving your oral health by brushing regularly

Avoiding harmful habits and behaviors such as teeth grinding, clenching, or chewing on non-food items like pens or fingernails is also essential. These actions can cause stress on the jaw and lead to locking.

Lastly, regular dental check-ups and professional consultations are essential for detecting potential issues and developing a personalized prevention plan. A healthcare professional can assess your risk factors and recommend exercises, relaxation techniques, and other strategies to prevent jaw locking. 

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If you have experienced jaw locking, it could be a symptom of numerous conditions. While the causes may be puzzling and discomforting, learning more about the triggers and addressing the underlying conditions can pave the way for relief and recovery. 

Shopremi.com provides various products to help with oral hygiene, such as custom night guards and other oral care items. Learn more about our products by visiting our website. 

We also encourage you to consult a medical professional if you are experiencing jaw locking to ensure it is adequately treated.

Ana Milian RDA Head Dental Technician

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