What is Lockjaw?
Lockjaw, also known in the medical profession as “trismus” is when a person either temporarily, or in some extreme cases permanently, loses the ability to open or close his or her mouth.
Lockjaw can be caused by a number of things including:
- Inflamed muscles and soft tissue (especially caused by impacted wisdom teeth) which strains the trigeminal nerve
- Temporomandibular joint syndrome, in which the nerve is suffering from stress or strain.
- Tetanus infections. One of the first signs of tetanus infections is lockjaw.
- Medication Side Effects, particularly those used for people with psychiatric illnesses and mental disorders.
- Illegal Drugs especially MDMA and other amphetamines
When left untreated, lockjaw can permanently impair the motor functions of a person, particularly when it comes to chewing or talking.
How to Get Rid of Lockjaw
- Warm compress. Applying heat through a hot water bottle (wrapped to protect the skin) can help relax the muscles and relieve any pain. This may help for minor cases. For more serious cases this may be useful in relieving the stress and symptoms until you can get to see a doctor.
- Dental surgery. Removing impacted wisdom teeth through dental surgery can help. This is of course best done by your dentist!
- Physical therapy. May be required for patients suffering from temporomandibular joint syndrome. Orthodontic appliances may be used to help in the recovery.
- Muscle relaxants. Muscle relaxants can help relieve or cure lockjaw when it is caused by contracted muscles in the jaw. Be sure to only use recommended doses.
- Anti-inflammatories and antibiotics. For lockjaw caused by abscesses or inflammation, these can, when used in combination, help reduce the swelling.
If you have had lockjaw then you know that it can be a scary experience and one that you do not wish to repeat again. Here are some ways for you to avoid lockjaw altogether:
- Chew properly. Avoid putting unnecessary stress on your jaw. Do not take excessively large servings of food, causing you to overextend the jaw.
- Avoid stress. Stress is a leading factor in temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ).
- Get vaccinated. A vaccination against tetanus will avoid lockjaw caused by tetanus (but not from other causes).
- Care with prescriptions. Check the leaflet or consult with your doctor or pharmacist for potential side effects to any medication you may be taking. Ask if there are any alternative treatment options or drugs that do not include lockjaw in their list of side effects.
- Avoid illegal drugs. Lockjaw is just one of the many health reasons to avoid drugs as well as all of the other legal and personal reasons.
With the above tips at your disposal for getting rid of lockjaw you should be able to see that, although it may seem scary, lockjaw is something that you can get rid of in a number of ways. If you are worried then please do not hesitate to contact a medical professional.