Trismus, also called lockjaw, is a symptom of many different dental conditions. People with trismus aren't able to open their mouth as wide as they should be able to, and in severe cases, can't open their mouths at all. Here's what you need to know about this scary symptom.
What conditions can cause trismus?
Trismus can be a symptom of many different dental conditions. It can be caused by infections either in the mouth, such as dental abscesses. It can also be caused by temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), a disorder of the jaw hinge. Tumors in the area can also cause trismus.
It can also occur after you get a dental procedure done, such as a tooth extraction. Keeping your mouth open wide for a long time can irritate the muscles and structures of the jaw, causing swelling, which makes it hard to open your mouth.
It can also be caused by a wide variety of non-dental medical issues, such as tetanus or cancer treatments, so if your dentist can't figure out why you have trismus, you'll need to see your family doctor.
How is trismus treated?
Trismus is just a symptom of other conditions, so to get rid of trismus, the underlying cause needs to be treated. Since so many things can cause trismus, the treatments are quite varied. For example, if a dental abscess is the cause, you will need to have the infection drained, and you may need your tooth extracted. If a tumor is to blame, it will need to be surgically removed.
If your trismus was brought on by a visit to the dentist or TMJ, your dentist may recommend treating your discomfort with heat packs, pain relievers, muscle relaxants, or a soft food/liquid diet.
Can trismus be permanent?
Trismus can be permanent, but fortunately, this isn't common. Once the underlying cause of your locked jaw is treated, you should be back to normal. However, trismus is sometimes permanent. If the symptom isn't treated, the jaw joint can degrade from lack of use, which makes it stiffer and harder to move. It only takes about three days for the joint to start to break down, which is why it's important to seek treatment as soon as you notice the stiffness.
Trismus is a scary symptom of many dental conditions. If you're having trouble opening your mouth, you may be suffering from trismus and should see your dentist or an emergency dentist right away.Share
10 March 2015
When the bottled water craze began, I jumped on the bandwagon with everyone else who was drinking water from bottles instead of from the tap. I wasn't sure why bottled water was healthier, but I liked the taste. When I went for my next dental check-up, I had my first cavity in a while, so I had it filled and didn't think much of it. Well, I had two more during my next check-up after that, and I began trying to think of why my teeth were suddenly going bad. The only change in my habits was the switch to bottled water, so I made the switch back to tap water and my teeth began to improve. I created this blog to encourage others who have begun getting cavities suddenly to look into their changes in habits. They may find they made a change similar to mine.