ZocdocAnswersCan TMJ pain keep me from opening my mouth?

Question

Can TMJ pain keep me from opening my mouth?

What other reasons can keep me from opening my mouth until ten minutes after I've woken up?

Answer

Trouble opening your mouth completely or pain with opening your mouth (trismus) is a symptom that should be checked out by your primary care doctor, especially if this persists for more than a few days, or if there are other concerning symptoms such as fever or trouble swallowing. TMJ (tempormandibular joint) pain is certainly a common cause of trouble opening the mouth. TMJ pain is caused by strain on the muscles of chewing and the joint that hinges the jaw onto the skull. It can cause pain, popping, and trouble with chewing or biting. This condition is most commonly managed by primary care doctors, dentists, and ENT doctors with a combination of exercises to help stretch out the TMJ area and pain relievers. There are other conditions that could cause pain when opening the mouth, however. These include infections or abscess of the tonsils, wisdom teeth, or other structures in the back of the throat. Sometimes these infections can be quite severe and can require immediate medical attention. Therefore, if you have pain in the throat or teeth, trouble swallowing, or fever, you should have these symptoms checked out more urgently to exclude the possibility of an infection.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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