What Are Some Possible Causes for Jaw Pain and Locking?


Quick Answer

Causes for jaw pain and locking include temporomandibular joint disorders, or TMD, and tetanus, which is also called "lockjaw," according to WebMD and Mayo Clinic. Temporomandibular joint disorders can be caused by teeth grinding or clenching, whiplash suffered in accidents, blows to the jaw, or arthritis of the jaw. Tetanus is a bacterial infection.

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Full Answer

TMD is more likely to strike a young woman, according to WebMD. It may be of short duration or last for years, and sometimes the pain is not restricted to the jaw. People with TMD also suffer aches in their heads, teeth, ears and necks. They may also have ringing in the ears, dizziness and pain in their upper shoulders.

Because the symptoms of TMD resemble other disorders such as tooth decay or gum disease, it is important to have a positive diagnosis, says WebMD. The doctor checks the patient's jaw for tenderness or pain and takes note of how the jaw works. An X-ray is also taken of the patient's full face, and CT and MRI scans may also be ordered.

The bacteria that causes tetanus often enters through a puncture wound in the body, says Mayo Clinic. The symptoms come from a few days to a few weeks after the injury and include stiff or spasming jaw muscles, stiff neck and abdominal muscles, and painful spasms triggered by very mild stimuli.

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