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Jaw Pain - Trismus Disorders

My daughter got her jaw locked in an open position yesterday midnight while she was sleeping. She could not get her mouth closed on her own. Had to get medical help from a hospital nearby to get it closed again.

My question is: Why does the jaw get locked like that in an open position? What can we do to get the mouth closed again with out help from a doctor, if it occurs again in a situation where help is not available immediately? What can we do to prevent this problem recurring? ...Visitor from Kerala, India

I would help considerably if I knew more of your daughter's history, as these situations USUALLY have warning signs prior to the event. I say usually because I never say never.

The Jaw joint is a "ball and socket" type of joint, with a disc in between. The disc helps reduce friction, and allow more free movement. The socket shape has a steep slope to the front aspect and then levels out. Normally, a lock happens when the ball part moves forward beyond the slope of the socket, and the disc gets stuck behind the ball.

Unfortunately, when this happens, the tissues get stretched to the point that a lock can happen again more easily. Normally help from someone else, whether it is you or a health professional, is required to get the jaw back in place, as the angles needed to push and pull the jaw make it difficult for a person to do it alone.

It will be important for your daughter to see someone experienced in TMJ care, and I believe the best group of people to help are those trained at LVI, or the Las Vegas Institute. Their website, www.lvilive.com has a section where one can search for a dentist near them. People from all over the world have gone there, but you may still need to travel a little ways. It is worth the drive, as regular untrained dentists normally do not have the equipment or experience to help. I hope this helps.

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