Table of contents
1 What is lockjaw?
2 What are the causes of lockjaw?
What causes lockjaw This causes lockjaw
3 Can I prevent lockjaw?
4 What are the complications of lockjaw?
5 What treatment methods are available?
Treatment of lockjaw Treatment of lockjaw
6 What do I have to consider after an operation?
The first few hours after the operation with anesthesia still active The first 24 hours after the operation The first days after the operation The first weeks after the operation

In many cases, lockjaw or lockjaw has harmless causes, but you should still get to the bottom of it. If left untreated, it is not only extremely annoying in everyday life, but could also lead to complications. We'll show you what the causes are, how they can be treated and how you can avoid lockjaw in the future!

What is lockjaw?

If you have lockjaw, the movement of your mouth is impaired. If you cannot close your mouth completely, this is called lockjaw. If you have difficulty opening your mouth completely, you are affected by lockjaw. These conditions are not diseases in their own right, but are always symptoms of another problem. This is why, after making a diagnosis, the doctor will try to get to the bottom of the cause of your lockjaw so that they can then offer you a suitable treatment option.1

What are the causes of lockjaw?

The causes of lockjaw are surprisingly varied. They usually have to do with conditions that affect the muscles, the nerves of the jaw or the surrounding tissue of the temporomandibular joint in different ways. Although there are serious causes, such as tumors, it is usually more harmless circumstances that lead to lockjaw or lockjaw. Especially if lockjaw occurs after dental surgery, you should simply wait until the local anesthetic wears off.

What causes lockjaw

  • Genetic malformation of the jaw
  • Jaw fracture (splintered bone fragments can restrict the mobility of the jaw)
  • A dislocated temporomandibular joint (often caused by intense yawning and less frequently by an injury)
  • Tumors
  • Arthritis deformans of the temporomandibular joint (osteoarthritis is strongly age-related, very unlikely in young patients)
  • Swelling of the oral mucosa (inside of the cheeks) due to abscesses or local anaesthesia2
  • Similar swelling due to wisdom tooth surgery

This causes lockjaw

  • Inflammation in the jaw area (e.g. due to a transversely growing wisdom tooth or after dental treatment)
  • Bacterial infections that paralyze the muscles
  • Still active local anesthesia of the lower jaw
  • Spasms of the masticatory muscles (can be caused by various serious illnesses such as tetanus,3 epilepsy or meningitis)
  • Scarring of the masticatory muscles as a result of surgical or radiological treatment
  • Disc displacement in the inner jaw joint
  • Arthrosis of the temporomandibular joint
  • Tumors4
  • Fractures in the temporomandibular joint
  • Bruxism (unconscious teeth grinding - often at night during deep sleep)5

Can I prevent lockjaw?

If you are regularly affected by this, you should have the position of your jaw joint checked by an orthodontist. You can also prevent the threat of lockjaw or lockjaw by seeing a doctor if your jaw cracks or grinds. These symptoms could indicate osteoarthritis or bruxism (involuntary teeth grinding, e.g. due to mental stress).

If you are already experiencing problems with your temporomandibular joint and are also a side sleeper, you should try sleeping on your back. This will prevent one-sided strain on your jaw.6

What are the complications of lockjaw?

A lockjaw or lockjaw whose cause has been correctly diagnosed and treated is almost always free of complications. In rare cases, lockjaw can lead to serious complications. If the underlying disease spreads, this can lead to painful muscle spasms, difficulty swallowing or shortness of breath. Severe lockjaw can restrict the ability to speak. If the lockjaw occurs due to malocclusion and is not treated, it may recur if the malocclusion was not treated after the first instance. In rare cases where the cause is a tumor, facial nerves can become paralyzed, which in turn can affect tear and saliva production.7

What treatment methods are available?

Once the cause of your lockjaw or lockjaw has been diagnosed by your GP or orthopaedic surgeon, they will discuss with you the appropriate treatment options, which can be as varied as the causes.

Treatment of lockjaw

Adjustment of the temporomandibular joint

If your temporomandibular joint head is dislocated, it is repositioned using the Hippocrates grip. The lower jaw is moved downwards and forwards with medium pressure so that the head of the joint can be repositioned.

Surgical treatment

If you have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the temporomandibular joint or a jaw fracture, or if the above-mentioned adjustment has not been successful, surgery is usually the only treatment option.8

Treatment of lockjaw

  • Physiotherapy:
    The elasticity of your chewing muscles is specifically trained several times a week.
  • Drug treatment:
    If your lockjaw is caused by inflammation, a prescription for anti-inflammatories is usually enough to relieve you of your lockjaw.
  • Bite splints:
    Can correct malformations of the jaw.
  • Local anesthesia of the nerve tracts:
    Can relieve cramps in the chewing muscles.
  • Surgical treatment:
    Surgery is performed in particular for a fracture of the lower jaw, tumors or a disc displacement in the inner temporomandibular joint.9

What do I have to consider after an operation?

Whether you've been affected by lockjaw or lockjaw, jaw surgery is a surgical procedure that, while usually complication-free, still puts stress on your body. Proper post-operative care is extremely important to ensure a healthy recovery. Please consider the following tips and contact your doctor if you are unsure about aftercare.10

The first hours after surgery with anesthesia still active

  • The local anesthetic and the physical stress of the procedure can impair your ability to react. You should therefore avoid driving for several hours.
  • No food or hot drinks for several hours. You could injure yourself without realizing it.
  • If you have received a pressure bandage or an inserted swab, please follow your doctor's instructions to avoid bleeding as much as possible.
  • Apply a cold compress to counteract swelling.

The first 24 hours after the operation

The following measures reduce the risk of secondary bleeding in the first 24 hours, which in turn inhibits the healing process:

  • Avoid alcohol, black tea, coffee or sugary soft drinks
  • Avoid smoking for at least one day.

The first few days after the operation

  • No sauna or steam bath visits
  • As soon as the anesthetic has completely worn off (in many cases usually the following day), you should rest your jaw as much as possible and avoid chewing as much as possible.
  • You must avoid hot food at all costs!

Optimal nutrition after jaw surgery with high-calorie nutritional drinks

After jaw surgery, chewing solid food can be painful or even impossible. In this phase high-calorie liquid food is an ideal solution to provide your body with all the necessary nutrients without straining your jaw. Not only are they gentle on your jaw, but they are also easy to consume and can help optimize energy intake without the need to chew solid food. Choose hydration meals that are rich in vitamins, minerals and protein to aid the healing process and help the body recover. This can be particularly important in the first few days after surgery when food intake can otherwise be a challenge.

The first weeks after surgery

  • Avoid physical exertion for 4-6 weeks. If your job requires it, your doctor will issue you with a certificate of incapacity for work.
  • Brush your teeth three times a day and avoid the immediate area of the operation.
  • You should avoid heavy chewing (e.g. raw carrots, apples or hard nuts) for 6 weeks.


What is lockjaw?

If you have lockjaw, you cannot close your mouth completely.

What is lockjaw?

A symptom where you cannot open your mouth completely. The causes of lockjaw are usually even more varied than those of lockjaw. This means that there are also many therapies that can be used depending on the cause.

How long does lockjaw last?

This depends on the cause. A lockjaw caused by temporary anesthesia or swelling only lasts a few hours. An untreated malocclusion or an untreated tumor, on the other hand, can lead to lockjaw for several years.

How do you get a lockjaw?

If you suffer from lockjaw, either the nerves, the surrounding tissue or the muscles are affected in some way. The most common causes of lockjaw are usually relatively harmless and can be treated without surgery.

What can you do if your jaw is constantly stuck?

If your jaw is constantly locked, you should always see your GP, as this indicates a chronic cause, such as a displaced disc, a tumor or osteoarthritis of the jaw joint. If your GP is unsure and there is a need for clarification, they will probably refer you to an orthodontist.

Sbalitelný obsah


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