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If You Can't Open Your Jaw All The Way…

We understand what you’re going through. We see patients at our offices all the time who are filled with worry and fear because their jaws won’t open in the morning or they can’t open their jaws all the way during the day.

There are several problems that might be the reason you can’t open your jaw all the way, such as an infection, an erupting wisdom tooth, or another medical issue. But most often, when you can’t open your mouth wide, it’s due to problems in your temporomandibular joints (your TMJs), such as cartilage slippage, ligament instability, inflammation-induced pain, and issues in the muscles of your jaw, neck, and/or shoulders.

It is scary when you can’t open your jaw all the way! And fear can make it even harder to open your mouth all the way.

What To Do When You Can't Open Your Mouth Wide

Because TMJ problems are orthopedic in nature, when you can’t open your mouth wide, your symptoms are the same as when any other joint in your body is in trouble – limited movement and pain. If you’re having difficulty opening your jaw all the way, your TMJs and jaw muscles are likely both compromised. Your symptoms may be moderate, but in severe cases,  patients can’t open their mouths wide enough to put even one finger in their mouth.

Another reason you can’t open your mouth wide might be tension in your neck and shoulder muscles. This tension can also adversely influence your jaw muscles and prevent you from opening your mouth all the way. We often solve this problem by treating the neck muscles.

If Your Jaw Won't Open In The Morning

If your jaw won’t open in the morning, it’s likely due to a joint problem, a muscle problem, or both. Your jaw could be stuck because the shock-absorbing discs in your TMJs have slipped out of position or because your jaw muscles are in a state of spasm.

Try Moist Heat

It may take some time for you to find the proper care, so try this simple 5-step method to try to ease the muscle spasms that are keeping you from being able to open your mouth wide in the morning:

  1. Get into a hot shower
  2. While the water is running on your face, gently massage your temples and jaw muscles
  3. Do this for five minutes
  4. Take a break for a minute or so
  5. Do it again for five more minutes

If this doesn’t help and your lockjaw continues for a few more days, your problem could result from a stuck disc in one of your jaw joints. An appointment with a specialist is your best next step. (If you live or work in the NYC metro area, call our office at 888-560-6674.)

If Your Mouth Won't Open All The Way During The Day

Some people can open their jaw normally when they wake up, but as the day goes on, their jaw motion becomes more and more limited. If this is you, it may be that your jaw or neck muscles are in a state of fatigue because of poor head posture, your emotions, how you deal with stress, jaw overuse behaviors, or all of the above.

Start paying attention to jaw overuse behaviors, habits, and/or postures that can lead to not being able to open your mouth all the way, and try to avoid or modify them, such as:

  • Nail-biting
  • Cuticle-gnawing
  • Chewing on pens or pencils
  • Biting your lips or cheeks
  • Clenching or grinding your teeth (especially while you are working at your computer)
  • Forward head posture while working on your computer or using your cell phone

What To Do If Nothing Works

If you’ve tried everything and your jaw still won’t open in the morning, or you can’t open your mouth wide during the day, it’s time to see a specialist. An experienced Orofacial Pain specialist will provide the education, support, and guidance you need to help identify, modify, and eliminate the factors causing your jaw not to open all the way.

At New York TMJ & Orofacial Pain, we help people like you get to the bottom of your jaw problems. Our compassionate and thoughtful philosophy of care will calm your nerves and provide the hope you need to start feeling better.

Call us at 888-560-6674 to make an appointment at one of our three convenient locations in the NYC metropolitan area, or complete this quick form , and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.