Were you chewing, yawning, or talking, and your jaw suddenly locked? This is a frightening condition called locked jaw. Your jaw is out of alignment and won’t unlock until it can slip back into its joint. Sometimes you can do this on your own, but other times you’ll need intervention from your Sydney TMJ dentist.
If you need immediate assistance, please have someone call (02) 9686 7375. If you are alone and can’t make a call, drive to 38 Merindah Road, Baulkham Hills, NSW 2153. Our dentist, Dr. David Lee, is experienced in jaw dysfunction and can safely move your jaw joint back into alignment without further damage.
Why Your Jaw Locks
Your jaw joint is called the temporomandibular joint. You have two, and they sit on either side of your head, just below your ears. They connect your mandible (jaw) to your skull. Your jaw joint acts like a sliding hinge and allows you to open and close your mouth as well as move it side to side and out. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to bite, chew, yawn, or speak.
A locked jaw is a symptom of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder or more commonly called TMJ. TMJ disorder is when your jaw becomes misaligned and causes pain due to inflammation, nerve pinching, and bone deterioration. If you hear clicking, popping, or grinding sounds when you open and close your mouth, it’s a sign that your jaw joint is sliding in and out of its socket. After time and repeated slipping, it can lock out of place, and you won’t be able to close your mouth.
How to Unlock Your Jaw
- Relax: If you experience a locked jaw, try your best to relax. When you are anxious and panicked, your jaw muscles will contract, and they won’t allow your jaw to slide back into its socket. Take several deep breaths, close your eyes, and realize that even if you can’t get your jaw closed on your own, your TMJ dentist can.
- Warm compress: After your muscles relax, hold a warm compress to your jaw joints for 10-15 minutes. The warmth will further relax your muscles.
- Apply gentle pressure: Apply pressure to your jaw with your palms very gently. Place your palms on both jaw joints and move your jaw side to side. Do not use strong force.
If It’s Not Unlocking, Do Not Force It! See Your TMJ Dentist
In some cases, you won’t be able to wiggle your jaw joint back into place on your own. If the above method doesn’t work, see your TMJ dentist for help. If you try to force your jaw, you may damage the joint further and make it slipping out of place and locking more likely. When in doubt, see your TMJ dentist in Sydney.
If you manage to unlock your jaw, make an appointment with Dr. Lee right away anyway. You can receive TMJ treatment that will allow your jaw to sit in a healthy position, relieve your pain, and do away with the possibility of a locked jaw in the future.
Next Steps: Get TMJ Treatment in Sydney
Your jaw is locking due to TMJ disorder, so the next step is to seek treatment in Sydney. TMJ treatment looks different for everyone based on how severe your TMJ is.
- In some cases, electromagnetic pulses from a TENS machine can help relax your jaw and relieve your pain. The TENS electric massage will only be temporary pain relief for moderate to severe TMJ. Either way, we use the TENS machine to relax your jaw so we can find it’s natural resting position. When we have found it, we’ll take impressions to create a custom oral advancement splint.
- The oral advancement splint is an orthotic that you wear at night while you sleep. It holds your jaw in the correct position. Eventually, this teaches your jaw where to stay during the day, but you’ll always need to wear your splint during the night. Some choose to take treatment a step further and correct their jaw position permanently with dental procedures.
- As a final step in your TMJ journey, you can choose to permanently treat your jaw with dental procedures. You may need orthodontics, dental implants, or crowns to build your teeth back up and realign your jaw. It all depends on your jaw and teeth, which is why all treatment is custom.
Dr. Lee also offers an alternative TMJ treatment called Disclusion Time Reduction (DTR). DTR is a computer-guided treatment for making minor adjustments to your jaw position. This takes about three appointments and the results can be long-lasting.
Your Sydney TMJ Dentist Can Help
If you’ve experienced a locked jaw (or haven’t yet) and need TMJ treatment, call (02) 9686 7375 or make an appointment online today. Dr. Lee is one of Australia’s three DTR providers and is an experienced TMJ dentist who can relieve your pain.