WHAT IS JAW LOCKING?
Some TMJ patients experience an inability to open their mouths fully. This is termed jaw locking and can often be treated with non-surgical TMJ therapy.
Different terms are often used to describe locking jaws. These terms range from closed locks, open locks, or even popping jaws.
WHAT CAUSES JAW LOCKING?
The lower jaw, when healthy, moves freely to open and close your mouth. With a closed lock issue, a person can usually get their teeth together, but cannot open very wide and they have limited opening. Sometimes these patients will notice that their jaw shifts slightly to one side when opening as well.
The second type of locking jaw is an Open Lock. This occurs when a patient opens their mouth and cannot get the teeth back together. This can occur momentarily or can remain stuck open.
Several things can cause these issues,from chronic damage to the joint over time that damages the ligaments of the joint allowing the jaw to be able to open too wide. Trauma can also damage the joint. A bad bite can also cause jaw locking. Furthermore, jaw locking can be painful or painless.
WHAT CAN BE DONE To CORRECT CLOSED LOCKS?
Most closed locks can be treated non-surgically. A non-surgical approach is to utilize neuromuscular methods to find the correct “physiologic” jaw position. This allows for optimal alignment of the jaw, muscles, and head to get the disc back in place with a neuromuscular appliance being used. Once stabilization, comfort, and normal motion have been corrected, then there are usually several options that can be considered for long term stabilization.
If you have questions about Houston TMJ or Houston TMJ Pain, please feel free to call our office, Ronald W. Konig DDS, FAGD, LVIF, 713-668-2289.