There are many ailments that can plague our everyday lives from simple colds to serious medical conditions. The most dangerous thing about these is that they are often overlooked and people attempt to “tough them out” when really they are symptoms of serious and sometimes lethal problems that must be examined and dealt with immediately. One of these ailments is Trismus otherwise known as lockjaw.

Lockjaw Explained

Lockjaw is essentially a disorder that prevents the mouth from opening properly, fully, or to otherwise function improperly. If there is pain or tension in your mouth that prevents you from fully opening your jaw it is likely that you have lockjaw. This disorder itself is relatively harmless, but it is an indicator of some issues that may be very important.

Causes of Lockjaw

One of the most famous causes of this disorder is having an infection known as tetanus which is potentially lethal. Tetanus has a few stages of infection and lockjaw occurs later, indicative of a long period of infection. While this one cause may be famous it is not the most common by a longshot. Many people who develop lockjaw actually have oral or mandible (jaw) related illnesses and problems that result in the disorder. Inflammation of the soft tissue in the mouth is one of the leading causes of lockjaw. Many things can cause the soft tissue in the mouth to be inflamed such as over mastication (too much chewing or use of the mouth) or disorders of the joints in the jaw such as Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ or TMJD).

Oral diseases, fevers, or other illness that have symptoms in the mouth can also cause lockjaw to develop. One of the reasons for this is because the muscles in the jaw become worn and exhausted from both tissue swelling and weakness; as a result your muscles can’t open your mouth all the way resulting in this disorder.

Treating Lockjaw

Having oral surgery performed is another leading cause of this disorder. It is more common in people who have their wisdom teeth removed, however over the tenure of 1-2 weeks the problem typically and progressively resolves itself. Treating this disorder first starts with identifying the cause of it. With infection, immediate medical attention is required and medication. For the more common and less severe causes, a warm wash cloth may help relax the muscles and allow the mouth to open more fully. Rest and a consultation with your doctor are always advised if you have lockjaw or any other disorder.