Lockjaw is a term used to describe a situation where you cannot fully open or close your mouth. Many times, lockjaw has other symptoms as well such as painful muscle spasms. There are many causes of lockjaw, but when the jaw is truly locked and extremely painful, it can be a condition known as trismus or “true lockjaw.” This is actually an early symptom of tetanus and should be treated immediately by a doctor as tetanus is a very serious medical condition caused by an extreme bacterial infection.
However, if you are just exhibiting signs of a tight jaw or one that is stiff or difficult to open and close on its own, you can start by trying to fix this condition naturally right at home. Many people find success with at home treatments for lockjaw.
Many people find a great deal of improvement in their stiff and locked jaws with regular jaw exercises. In general, exercise can play an important role in lockjaw treatment. Here are a few exercises to try.
- Loosen up your jaw muscles with small movements. Start by moving the jaw up and down and then side to side. Do not grind your teeth while doing this, try to leave your mouth as open as possible.
- Move your jaw back as far as possible, then move it as forward as possible. Then relax and try it again only moving from one side as far as possible to the other side as far as possible.
- Open the jaw as wide as you can without pain. Hold in this position for five seconds. Try to open the jaw slightly wider, then relax.
- Use resistance while practicing jaw exercises. Press your thumb against your chin and try to open your mouth as wide as you can. Hold and then relax. Repeat the process on either side of your jaw.
When doing jaw exercises, it is important to make sure you aren’t putting yourself in extreme pain. You should perform 10 reps of each jaw exercises at least once a day in front of the mirror. Be careful to not grind your teeth while doing your movements and you will start to see an increase in your jaw mobility.
Stress Reduction and Relaxation
Many times, stiff or locked jaws can actually be a side effect of extreme stress. When the body tenses up, sometimes the jaw can get stuck in that tense, tight position. Stress can predispose you to lock jaw, but it can also worsen your existing issues with tight or locked jaws.
This is why stress reduction and relaxation are key ways to combat issues with locked jaws. Here are a few ways to employ stress reduction and relaxation tactics.
Regular massage can help any person find some much-needed stress relief and relaxation. Massage that focuses on the head, neck and jaw can also help naturally loosen up the muscles that tend to tense up when people suffer from lockjaw.
Regular seated meditation can help with locking jaws. All you need to do is to sit in a comfortable position and take in continuous, deep breaths. Focus on relaxing your tongue and your entire body. With every breath you take in, try to relax your entire face, including your mouth and jaw. Try to focus on nothing but your breath. Practice this every day for 15-20 minutes.
Soothing bubble baths can actually really help loosen up the tight muscles that cause lockjaw and can help provide some much-needed stress relief. Consider baths with certain bath salts or scents in them that promote relaxation such as lavender. Mint is also a great scent to help loosen up muscles.
Yoga is a great tool for helping with stress reduction and many find it helps to cure lockjaw. There are actually a few different specific yoga poses that are particularly helpful with jaw issues and that can help cure lockjaw. They include:
- Downward Facing Dog- This classic position has the individual in an inverted ‘V’ pose with the heels and hands on the ground. It helps improve blood flow to the head and the jaw.
- Viparita Karani (Legs Up)- This pose is done by laying flat on your back on the floor. Try to keep your lower back as attached to the floor as possible and stretch your legs up the wall. It can help with blood flow and helps release tension that can be causing lockjaw.
- Corpse pose- This is one of the best poses for muscle relaxation and tension. This pose essentially is all about relaxation. Lie flat on the floor on your back. Keep your arms at your side and your palms up. Allow your entire body to relax and stay in this position for 5-10 minutes.
Natural Home Remedies
There are many natural home remedies, including changes to the diet that can drastically help improve issues with locked jaws. These home remedies are safe, natural and can really help with the symptoms associated with lockjaw. If you have not received a tetanus vaccine, have been injured by a dirty object, or are also experiencing fever, sweating, abdominal tension and trouble swallowing, then you may be dealing with tetanus and should go visit your doctor. If not, try these home remedies.
The Mustard Oil Treatment
Mustard oil is actually a really powerful natural remedy that can not only help with increasing blood flow but that also acts as an anti-inflammatory. Here’s how to use it as an external home treatment for lock jaw.
- Mix together a teaspoon of natural mustard oil and two cloves of garlic. Bring the solution to a boil, then let it cool.
- Massage the oil onto the outside of the jaw where the jaw is the most stiff or painful.
With the addition of the garlic, you can enjoy anti-microbial properties. If your jaw is neither infected or inflamed this solution is going to instantly help with mobility. Try to do this treatment 2-3 times per day.
A nice glass of herbal tea can help loosen up jaw muscles and help treat the pain and stiffness associated with lockjaw. Here are a few different herbal teas to try:
- Chamomile- This is known for its calming effects and it can help reduce stress-induced muscle pain and tightness.
- Echinacea- A delicious herb that is known for its ability to cut down on pain and swelling.
- Feverfew- This muscle is known for helping with muscle soreness and pain.
- Kava Kava- This herbal tea is popular among those with anxiety as it drastically helps with relaxation.
- Peppermint- Nothing can relax muscles quite like a nice peppermint tea.
Simply drink a cup of these types of teas 2-3 times a day to really take advantage of their unique benefits.
There are certain dietary changes that you can make in order to help with your locked jaw. Adding certain healthy vitamins and nutrients can go a long way for individuals with tightened jaws. These changes include:
- Introducing more magnesium into the diet. This can include almonds, bananas, avocados, soy and beans. Women should get at least 400 mg of magnesium per day and men should get at least 310 mg daily.
- Add more calcium to your diet. It helps strengthen your jaw bones and can help with muscle spasms. Foods that are rich in calcium include cheese, kale, salmon and yogurt. Make sure you are getting at least 1000mg of calcium daily.
- Eat foods filled with vitamin D. Calcium and vitamin D go hand-in-hand. You need vitamin D in your body in order to absorb calcium. Add cheese, egg yolks, tuna and salmon to your diet to get more vitamin D.
- Consume more protein. Protein is essential for healthy muscles and can help with issues related to your muscles tensing up and locking or from muscle cramps in your jaw.
- Eat more soft foods. Less pressure on your jaw can drastically help with lock jaw issues. Eating as many soft foods as possible can give your jaw the break it needs. This means smoothies, soup, eggs and cottage cheese.
- Stop chewing gum. Gum will only put stress on your jaw and make your discomfort worse. There is a common misconception that gum will help exercise tight jaws—it will only make them more stressed.
- Drink 8-10 glasses of water per day. Dehydration is actually a major contributing factor to lockjaw, so keep your muscles and your body hydrated.