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A 42-year-old member asked:

sometimes when i open my mouth wide enough, my jaw locks itself (but it's rare). does this mean i have tmj?

7 doctor answers16 doctors weighed in
Dr. Gary Lederman
Dentistry 40 years experience
Yes: If your jaw locks open, it is because the articular disc has move from its normal position to prevent jaw closure. For this to occur, the structures holding the disc firmly in place have stretched. So, physical changes to the joint imply a disease process has occurred. Only you can decide if you would like to keep things from worsening before you develop full TMJ symptoms.
Dr. Steven Bender
Dentistry 35 years experience
NO: When a jaw locks open, it usually means that the part of the lower jaw that meets the scull has travelled beyond the bounderies of the socket. This is often associated with hyperactivity of muscles that move the jaw. You should talk to a dentist who has advanced training in TMJ disorders.
Dr. Manuel Sousa
Orthodontics 46 years experience
Questionable: Tmj refers to the physical joint space of the lower jaw. The appropriate term is tmd or temporo mandibular dysfunction. There are many symptoms that can be associated with this. Yours may be simply a loose joint that dislocstes itself upon excessive opening. I would discuss this issue with your dentist and have him/her evaluate.
Dr. Louis Gallia
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 45 years experience
Yes, but: Yes, your intermitten open locking is one of the TMj diorders. But if it is rare, no treatment indicated and prognosis good. Just avoid situation where you open wide enough to lock, or the condition could progress to something more serious.
Dr. Erin Robertson
General Practice 19 years experience
TMJ DISEASE/SYNDROME: Yes & no. The causes for TMJD vary in severity and determine treatment plans. Talk to your dentist or PCP. X-Ray studies may help to characterize your issue and determine if you have inflammatory vs. osteoarthritis. If you have bruxism (teeth grinding) that will contribute to pain/popping/locking. It is best to get treatment earlier than later. TMJD can also cause debilitating headaches.
Dr. Paul Grin
Pain Management 36 years experience
No, dislocation: TMJ becomes dislocated when the condyle moves too far and gets stuck in front of a bony eminence. TMJ dislocation is due to either trauma or more often the excessive opening of the lower jaw.
Dr. John Thaler
Prosthodontics 41 years experience
No: This is called subluxation. Anatomically, your condyle (the part of your lower jaw in front of your ear) slides past the bump in your upper jaw (the arcuate eminence) - back from your cheekbone- and gets stuck. Some patient's get stuck here and have to be seen ASAP for repositioning. I would avoid this as much as possible, as it is an extended range movement . Good Luck.

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Similar questions

A 33-year-old member asked:

Why is my jaw locking and clicking everytime I open my mouth?

5 doctor answers12 doctors weighed in
Dr. Richard Bensinger
Ophthalmology 52 years experience
T%MJ dysfunction: This is due to dysfunction of the temporal mandibular joint just below the ear. The cartilage catches on the other side of the joint and clicks as the joint moves. Sometimes the cartilage catches the other side and the jaw locks. If this starts to happen, do not try to close the morth - but keep it open, rock the joint from side to side and yawn and usually the jaw will snap into place.
A 45-year-old member asked:

Why is my jaw locking and clicking everytime I open my mouth wide?

3 doctor answers5 doctors weighed in
Dr. Richard Bensinger
Ophthalmology 52 years experience
TMJ problem: This is due to dysfunction of the temporal mandibular joint just below the ear. The cartilage catches on the other side of the joint and clicks as the joint moves. Sometimes the cartilage catches the other side and the jaw locks. If this starts to happen, do not try to close the morth - but keep it open, rock the joint from side to side and yawn and usually the jaw will snap into place.
A 34-year-old member asked:

I have been unable to open my mouth past 25% for over a week. Left side of jaw is locked is there any way to get it unlocked? Starting to freak out

3 doctor answers9 doctors weighed in
Dr. Patrick Melder
ENT and Head and Neck Surgery 27 years experience
Freak OUT!: This is definitely a cause for concern. This could be a simple as severe tmj.. If you are having pain in the jaw region.. Near the ear.. It could be that. However, as a specialist, my first concern would be to make sure there is not a mass that is irritating the muscles that open the jaw or are just preventing the jaw from opening. You need to be seen by a local ENT asap!
A 33-year-old member asked:

My jaw locks and when i open my mouth it sounds like it pops. Is this bad?

1 doctor answer2 doctors weighed in
Dr. Gary Sandler
Dentistry 54 years experience
Yes: You suffer from tmd (temporomandibular joint dysfunction). See a dentist with extensive training and experience treating patients with this disorder to discuss palliative and conservative treatment options.
Warrensburg, MO
A 16-year-old female asked:

My jaw sometimes locks when i chew, or try to open my mouth too wide. I'm still in school and healthy besides this. Is it normal?

3 doctor answers4 doctors weighed in
Dr. Patrick Kohlitz
Internal Medicine 11 years experience
Normal: This is a common problem. Your temporomandibular joint is the hinge that connects your lower jaw to your skull. As we grow, this join frequently becomes lax and can get "stuck". Try eating slowly and only fully extending your jaw when necessary, you should grow out of this problem with time.

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Last updated Mar 22, 2015

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