Locked jaw prevents the mouth from its normal functioning as it can’t open normally. A locked jaw can cause severe discomfort and pain. It also has a great impact on eating, drinking, speaking and even maintaining good oral health. This medical condition is also known as trismus and it can occur on one or both sides of the jaw. Continue reading about the common causes of a locked jaw and its treatments.
What Causes Locked Jaw on One Side?
One of the main causes of jaw locking on one side is a bacterial infection with tetanus. Tetanus is a life-threatening condition as the infection spreads to other body parts. Other locked jaw causes include:
- Lack of sleep
- Poor diet
- Temporomandibular joint disorders
- Osteoarthritis and other joint diseases
- Constant nail biting
- Chewing gum regularly
- Bruxism, teeth grinding while sleeping
- Bad teeth alignment due to dental defects
- Food size you eat
- Poor posture, especially when using the computer for a long period of time during the day. It strains the neck muscles and face muscles, eventually resulting in a locked jaw.
- Physical stress on the nearby structures of the temporomandibular joints, such as muscles, bones, cartilages, nerves or blood vessels, etc.
Whenever you notice problems with your jaw and mouth opening, you should seek immediate medical help. This is especially important in cases when the locked jaw is a result of tetanus infection.
How to Fix the Locked Jaw on One Side
Locked jaw treatment depends on its causes and symptoms. Some of the treatments are available:
- In cases of bruxism, a biting splint helps.
- In cases of tetanus, antitoxins are administrated.
- In cases of dental problems, let your dentist check your teeth and fix any problems.
There are also various natural treatments available which can help you get rid of a locked jaw, such as:
1. Warm and Cold Packs
Applying warm and cold packs can help decrease the swelling and inflammation. First, apply cold packs for about 10 minutes, followed by warm packs for about 5 minutes. You should not apply warm or cold compresses for a long period of time as they can cause burning or freezing of your skin. For this purpose, you can use a towel soaked into heat or towel wrapped with ice.
2. Jaw Exercises
In cases of a locked jaw, regular jaw exercises play an important part in the treatment. When performed regularly and correctly, these exercises can even prevent a locked jaw from occurring in the first place.
- Start by relaxing your shoulders, your lower jaw as well as your tongue. Your teeth should not touch each other.
- Move the jaw up and down and from one side to the other gently, without causing any discomfort or pain.
- Move your jaw as far as possible.
In order to relieve locked jaw on one side, regular jaw massages can help. Circular massage helps relax your muscles and tendons.
4. Garlic and Mustard Oil
Garlic is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties as well as its antimicrobial properties. Mustard oil, on the other hand, improves the blood circulation to the affected area.
Boil a teaspoon of mustard oil and 2 cloves of garlic. Once it’s cooled out, apply this oil and massage the jaw area 2 to 3 times a day.
5. Herbal Tea
Different herbal tea can help you solve your locked jaw problem naturally. The following herbs are recommended:
- Chamomile helps reduce any muscle pain and has a calming effect.
- Echinacea helps decrease the swelling and pain.
- Kava kava helps relax the muscles and reduces anxiety.
- Feverfew helps relieve muscle soreness and pain.
- Passionflower helps relieve anxiety, discomfort, and restlessness.
- Peppermint has a calming effect and it helps reduce the pain as well.
6. Magnesium Foods and Supplements
Magnesium is known to be important for muscle relaxation. It also helps calm down the firing of the nervous system. Daily magnesium requirements are about 400 mg for men and about 300 mg for women.
First, try to include foods rich in magnesium into your daily diet. Foods rich in magnesium include bananas, avocados, apricots, almonds, peas, soy, beans, brown rice, whole grains, etc. If these are of no help, try taking magnesium supplements daily.
7. Vitamin D and Calcium Supplements
It is well known that calcium helps you maintain healthy bones. Foods rich in calcium should be part of your daily diet, such as yogurt, milk, cheese, fish, green leafy vegetables, etc. Daily calcium requirements are about 1000 mg a day. You can also try taking calcium supplements daily.
In order to absorb the calcium, your body requires vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D increase the risk of having your jaw locked. Daily vitamin D requirements are about 600 UI. Foods rich in vitamin D include milk, yogurt, egg yolks, cheese, beef liver, orange juice, etc.
8. More Prevention Tips
The following tips can help prevent locked jaw on one side:
- Keep a good posture, especially while working on the computer or sitting at the desk. A good posture of your back and spine, especially of your head and neck helps relax the muscles.
- Don’t grind your teeth, as regular teeth grinding stresses out your jaw articulation, leading to TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder). People are more likely to grind their teeth while sleeping.
- Try eating soft foods which are easier for chewing and swallowing. By doing so, you will give your tight jaw muscles some rest, relieving the pain and discomfort. Eating in small bites is also helpful. Avoid sticky and hard foods as well.
- Drink plenty of water a day by keeping yourself well hydrated to prevent muscle cramps. It is recommended to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.
- Avoid chewing gums.