18 Effective Ways to Get Rid of Lockjaw

Lockjaw, simply, as the name suggests, is a condition when your jaw becomes locked in place.

Unfortunately, many people face this recurrently throughout their lifetime. It can be a painful condition, to say the least!

This condition is painful as it prevents the mouth from fully opening and functioning correctly.

Also, called trismus, this condition can cause severe pain and discomfort, as well as difficulty with speech, eating, and maintaining oral health [1].

Often, it is caused by a bacterial infection called tetanus, which can then spread to other parts of the body and put one’s life at risk. This results in severe muscle spasm, including that of the jaw [2].

Other causes of lockjaw include TMJ or  Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), oral infections, dental injury, trauma to the jaw or mouth and certain serious infectious diseases [1]

It is imperative for someone suffering from this condition to seek immediate medical help, especially if the suspected cause is tetanus or some other life-threatening infectious disease.

While on treatment, you can also make use of these simple ways to get rid of lockjaw to help ease the stiffness and pain in this part of your mouth.

So, in this post, you’re going to know about:

  • How do you get rid of lockjaw
  • 18 ways to get rid of TMJ lockjaw
  • Some frequently asked questions and answers

18 Ways to Get Rid of Lockjaw

1. Exercise

Subjecting your jaw to too much pressure will only aggravate the condition. So, it is best you do not apply too much pressure to it.

However, it was found in numerous studies that gentle exercises can increase jaw movement as well as a range of motion [5].

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Physical Therapy Association, active exercises are helpful in increasing the vertical opening of the mouths of people with lockjaw [6].

This is especially true for those cases resulting from TMD or other causes such as acute arthritis and acute disk displacement [6].

Other interventions that make exercise even more useful for lockjaw are biofeedback training, postural correction and different relaxation techniques [6].

On the other hand, another study featured in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation, 18 patients with lockjaw were asked to participate in a treatment consisting of active and passive types of jaw movement exercises [7].

Results show that jaw exercises significantly improved the condition and minimized the pain without causing any adverse side effects [7].

What You’ll Need:

  • Consistent schedule of jaw exercise

Recommended Directions:

  1. Every morning, set aside a time for exercising your jaws.
  2. Begin by pressing your chin gently to open the mouth a little.
  3. Lift it back again to close the mouth.
  4. Do four sets of this exercise every day for up to eight weeks.

2. Stress Reduction Techniques

Most people know that stress causes a number of serious ailments, including heart disease and high blood pressure.

But did you know that it is also linked to lockjaw?

So not surprisingly, relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and guided imagery are often suggested remedies for this problem.

Two studies confirm that biofeedback training and relaxation exercises can benefit people suffering from TMD [8, 9].

In biofeedback therapy, patients are trained to control certain physiological processes of their body. This includes heart rate, muscle tension, and blood pressure.

Yes, these are automatic processes, but patients learn how to influence them in order to treat several conditions like a migraine, hypertension, urinary continence, and chronic pain, among others.

It has also been found to be highly effective in treating conditions triggered by stress [8].

According to one study, it can help minimize “abnormal facial muscle activities” such as teeth grinding, teeth clenching, lip biting and so on [8].

These habits may not seem harmful but are actually detrimental to someone with an injury to the jaw joint [8].

In a clinical trial performed in 1984, 57 patients with chronic TMD pain were given relaxation and biofeedback therapy [9].

Findings released from the experiment reveals that both therapies were effective in alleviating the condition [9].

What You’ll Need:

  • Stress reduction exercises

Recommended Directions:

  1. Engage in stress reduction exercises such as biofeedback training, yoga, meditation, and deep breathing.
  2. Meditation is an effective exercise to get rid of TMJ pain.
  3. Perform different yoga poses twice a day for one to two weeks.
  4. Set aside time for deep breathing and meditation during the day.
  5. It’s also a good idea to get a massage therapy twice a day for one to two months.
  6. And be sure to get plenty of rest too.

3. Cold Compress

Many people rely on a cold compress for pain relief in various situations. Thus, concerning that, a cold compress can also provide respite to those with lockjaw.

Cold therapy is believed to alleviate pain by disrupting the nerve transmission in the fibers that are in charge of pain sensation. Thus it helps you to get rid of tmj jaw pain [10].

It can also block pain sensation, increase pain threshold, and release endorphins [10].

Endorphins are hormones produced in the pituitary gland and the nervous system [11].

Their primary function is to prevent signals of pain from being transmitted to the brain, and at the same time, create a “feeling of euphoria” [11].

As for swelling, ice causes the blood vessels to narrow, and as a result, it reduces inflammation in the underlying tissues [10].

To maximize the beneficial effects of cold therapy, cold compress has to be applied on the skin for at least 10 minutes, but don’t use it directly as you don’t want your skin getting too cold.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup of ice cubes

Recommended Directions:

  1. Wrap ice cubes in a towel.
  2. Gently apply on the jaw for 10 minutes to relieve stiffness.
  3. Do this three times a day until condition improves.

4. Garlic and Mustard

Garlic is often included as an ingredient in home remedies for numerous ailments.

Mustard, which may not be as popular as garlic as an herbal remedy, is also utilized to resolve many health issues.

The combination of the two can be used to relieve lockjaw.

Garlic has strong antibacterial actions that can help kill the source of infection, thanks to its active compound called allicin [12].

Meanwhile, mustard is a great way to boost blood circulation in the affected jaw.

After all, it is known to possess anticoagulant properties [13].

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of mustard oil

Recommended Directions:

  1. Crush and peel off garlic cloves.
  2. Chop into small pieces.
  3. In a pan over low heat, warm mustard oil and add chopped garlic.
  4. Remove from heat after five minutes.
  5. Strain to remove chopped garlic.
  6. Apply a layer of oil to the jaw.
  7. Massage gently twice or thrice a day until lockjaw is relieved.

5. Chamomile Tea

Herbal teas are also popular treatment suggestions for lockjaw.

Some people turn to nettle tea, valerian tea or catnip tea to alleviate this problem.

Chamomile tea, which has been considered a practical herbal solution for a wide variety of ailments, is also an excellent choice.

A 2012 study has proved that chamomile has analgesic effects, and can, therefore, alleviate the pain that comes with TMD [14].

In fact, its effects are even stronger compared to those of standard analgesic drugs [14].

Drinking a cup of chamomile tea also has relaxation effects that can help ease stiffness in the jaw muscles and make you feel better.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 teaspoon of chamomile flowers
  • 1 cup of water

Recommended Directions:

  1. Pour water into a pot.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. Transfer water to a cup.
  5. Add chamomile flowers.
  6. Cover the cup.
  7. Let it steep for 15 minutes.
  8. Strain the tea.
  9. Open your mouth slightly.
  10. Sip the tea slowly using a straw.
  11. Do this remedy once a day for up to one month.

6. Echinacea

More commonly known as purple coneflower, Echinacea is native to North America [15].

Its liquid extract derived from the plant’s roots is the “most widely used herbal product in the United States” [15].

It is commonly prescribed as a natural treatment for colds and other respiratory infections [16].

For those who complain of lockjaw, Echinacea can also help.

Research has shown that this plant is a potent analgesic and anti-inflammatory [17, 18].

Simply put, it can enhance the pain and at the same time, tone down swelling if there’s any [17, 18].

Although proven effective, this remedy is not recommended for people who have been diagnosed with autoimmune disease.

What you will need:

  • 1 teaspoon of Echinacea
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of honey

Recommended Directions:

  1. Chop ginger and put in a cup.
  2. Add Echinacea.
  3. Boil water in a teapot.
  4. Pour it into the cup.
  5. Steep for 20 minutes.
  6. Add honey.
  7. Stir well.
  8. Drink while warm.
  9. Sip slowly using a straw.
  10. Do this technique twice a day until jaw stiffness is gone.

7. Chili Pepper

Capsaicin in chili pepper is believed to possess analgesic effects, which is why it is often considered a top treatment for lockjaw.

This active compound produces pain-relieving effects after application on the skin [19, 20, 21, 22].

But that’s not all; it is also believed to have inhibitory effects against bacteria that cause tetanus and lockjaw, which is Clostridium tetani [23].

As you will notice, it is the only remedy in this list that is believed to have inhibitory effects on tetanus-causing bacteria.

However, further research is necessary to validate this theory.

Also, take note that applying chili pepper on the skin will produce stinging sensation, so you have to limit the amount, and not use this remedy for an extended period.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/2 chili pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of mustard oil

Recommended Directions:

  1. Put a pan over low heat
  2. Pour mustard oil and heat it for a few minutes.
  3. Add chili pepper.
  4. Stir it for a few minutes.
  5. Remove from heat.
  6. Strain chili pepper.
  7. Use a cotton pad to apply oil on the stiff jaw.
  8. Massage gently.
  9. Repeat procedure twice daily for one to two weeks.

8. Valerian

One of the many ways lockjaw affects the health is by making it difficult for people with this condition to get a good sleep at night.

Along with getting rid of the jaw stiffness itself, it’s also a must to take care of the side issues it brings. For sleep deprivation caused by lockjaw, valerian can help.

This essential oil has been verified in numerous studies to have sleep-inducing effects.

It has been proven to shorten sleep latency, improve sleep quality and lengthen sleep duration [24, 25, 26, 27, 28].

Using this essential oil either through massage or inhalation can help you sleep better even with the pain and discomfort that you have to deal with.

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of valerian oil
  • 1 teaspoon of almond oil

Recommended Directions:

  1. Combine valerian and almond oils in a bowl.
  2. Transfer oil mixture to a glass jar.
  3. Pour a few drops on your palm.
  4. Massage your jaw gently with the mixture.
  5. Inhale the aroma for a few minutes from the glass jar before going to bed.
  6. Use this method once a day for several weeks.

9. Peppermint

Getting relief from pain caused by lockjaw is the next most important thing that you have to do after getting treatment for this condition.

One way to do that is to make use of peppermint.

This can be achieved in two ways: drinking peppermint tea and massaging the affected area with peppermint oil.

Peppermint tea, which is one of the world’s most widely consumed herbal teas, has significant analgesic and anesthetic properties that can help alleviate your pain [29].

Topical application of peppermint oil, meanwhile, stimulates the cold receptors and leaves a cooling sensation that makes you forget about your discomfort [30].

These analgesic properties are due to the presence of menthol [30].

What you will need:

  • 1 teaspoon of peppermint leaves
  • 1 cup of water
  • 3 drops of peppermint oil
  • 1 teaspoon of almond oil

Recommended Directions:

  1. Boil water in a pot.
  2. Add peppermint leaves.
  3. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Drink the tea using a straw twice a day for one to two weeks.
  5. Combine peppermint oil and almond oil.
  6. Apply to the jaw area, and massage using small circular motions.
  7. Do this two to three times a day for one to two weeks.

10. Lavender Oil

A small aromatic shrub that can be found in the Arabian Peninsula, Mediterranean regions, and in Southern Europe, among other places, lavender is famous all over the world for its numerous pharmacological effects [31].

Oil is extracted from the dried flowers of lavender through a process called steam distillation [31].

Although this essential oil won’t directly treat your lockjaw, it can help in different ways. For one, it has relaxation effects that can reduce stiffness in the jaw muscles [32].

It’s also an active anti-inflammatory and analgesic agent that can help relieve this condition [33].

What You’ll Need:

  • 20 drops of lavender oil
  • Warm bath water

Recommended Directions:

  1. Pour lavender oil in your bath water.
  2. Swish your fingers to blend oil to the water.
  3. Sit in the bath for 30 minutes once a day for as long as you find it comforting.
  4. Submerge your entire body including your jaw.

11. Rose Oil

Native to Europe and the Middle East, rosa damascena, more commonly known as rose, has been used for decades to relieve a wide range of health problems [34].

Most of its pharmacological properties can be attributed to its high phenolic content [34].

Those who are bothered by lockjaw can also make use of this oil remedy for quick relief.

After all, rose oil has been proven to have significant analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects [35].

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 drops of rose oil
  • 1 teaspoon of almond oil

Recommended Directions:

  1. Dilute rose oil with almond oil.
  2. Mix in a bowl, then transfer to a glass jar.
  3. Pour a few drops on your fingers.
  4. Apply your jaw.
  5. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
  6. Massage your jaw gently for another 10 minutes.
  7. Do this procedure twice a day until pain and stiffness subside.

12. Clary Sage Oil

Painful conditions like lockjaw can be alleviated with an aromatherapy massage.

Massaging the affected jaws with clary sage oil can do so much in improving the condition.

A 2011 study published in the Journal of Essential Oil Research has proven that this oil has strong analgesic, antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory properties [36].

This means that it can help tone down the swelling, and provide pain relief by desensitizing the nerves and blocking pain signals in the brain.

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of clary sage oil
  • 1 teaspoon of jojoba oil

Recommended Directions:

  1. Add clary sage oil to jojoba oil.
  2. Blend well.
  3. Transfer oil mixture to a glass jar.
  4. Whenever you feel pain in your jaw, apply a few drops of your fingers and massage your jaws gently.
  5. Do not put too much pressure on your jaws.
  6. Repeat this technique several times a day until condition improves.

13. Epsom Salt

Epsom salt or magnesium sulfate (MgSO4) is a traditional remedy for sore muscles and fatigue among the athletes.  [37]

However, there’s much more to this mineral other than its health benefits.

Epsom salt has a versatile use for gardening, household cleaning, and in the cosmetics industries.

Epsom salt was first distilled from a bitter saline spring in Epsom, Surrey, England. Hence the name of the mineral compound is Epsom Salt.

This colorless crystalline mineral is a combination of magnesium, sulfate, and oxygen. [37]

Epsom salt is an ideal remedy for muscle aches, joint pains, dry skin, etc. A detoxifying Epsom salt bath can provide you with a rejuvenating experience.

A deficiency of magnesium in your body is one of the causes of jaw lock.

Epsom salt is a rich natural supplement of magnesium to your body. Your skin readily absorbs the minerals in the salt.

Thus, Epsom salt relaxes the locked jaws, calms the pain and inflammations of your muscles. [38]

What You’ll Need:

  • ½ cup of Epsom salt
  • Lukewarm water

Recommended Directions:

  1. Fill your tub with lukewarm water.
  2. Now, add Epsom salt to the water and dip in for 15-20 minutes.
  3. In the process of the shower, gently massage your locked jaws with the solution.
  4. Repeat the treatment every night before you go to bed to cure lockjaw.

14. Warm Compress

A warm compress can be the simple solution to get rid of lockjaw. You can purchase a warm compress easily from the chemist shop.

The physiological effects of warmth on your locked jaw is relieving pain, boosting metabolism, blood flow, and elasticity of the connective tissues inside your jaws and neck. [39]

A warm compress can relieve the stress on your jaw muscles as well. [39]

What You’ll Need:

  • Hot water (as per needed)
  • Warm compress bag

Recommended Directions:

  1. Fill the compressed bag with warm water and secure the lid.
  2. Now, place the warm compress near your affected jawlines and neck.
  3. Repeat the process several times a day to get rid of lockjaw fast.

15. Calcium and Magnesium Rich Foods

Keeping healthy is not a rocket science. Managing your diet is one of the simplest ways to deal with any illnesses.

Calcium-rich foods are ideal for bone health. Whereas magnesium enriched foods can relieve inflammations and pain naturally. Thus you should sketch out a balanced diet that includes both calcium and magnesium-rich foods to get rid of lockjaw. [40]

Some of the natural sources of calcium include milk, dairy products, almonds, cabbage, bananas, etc.

Some of the magnesium-rich foods are spinach, avocados, pumpkin, oat meats, flaxseeds, yogurt, etc.

What You’ll Need:

  • Calcium-rich foods
  • Magnesium rich foods

Recommended Directions:

  1. Prepare your meals with a balanced combination of both calcium and magnesium-rich foods.
  2. Give priority to eating fruits and vegetables.
  3. Herbal teas are ideal for relieving pain and strengthening muscles.
  4. Avoid junk foods when you are suffering from a lockjaw.

16. Stay Hydrated

Dehydration is a major cause for many physical disorders. Your need to consume sufficient amount of water for a proper functioning of all the bodily organs and systems.

A good hydration of the body can keep away oral infections, muscle cramps, joint pains, etc. which are primary causes of lockjaw. Moreover, you can reduce your stress level and trauma by consuming enough water on a daily basis. Stress is another trigger for a lockjaw.

What You’ll Need:

  • 8 glasses or 1-2 liters of water
  • Fresh fruit juice

Recommended Directions:

  1. Consume at least 8 glasses of water every day to fix lockjaw immediately.
  2. Start your day drinking 2 glasses of water on an empty stomach.
  3. You can consume liquid foods such as soup and fruit juices to hydrate your body.
  4. Never go thirsty for a long time and try to sip on water whenever possible.

17. Nutritious Diet

Malnutrition can have a heavy toll on your overall health. Lack of essential vitamins and minerals may lead to conditions like lockjaw.

You need to plan a diet that has variety of vegetables and fruits. In this way you can benefit yourself with all round course of vitamins and essential minerals. Your healthy diet plan should discard all sorts of junk foods that may aggravate the lockjaw pain.

What You’ll Need:

  • Green and leafy vegetables
  • Fresh fruits

Recommended Directions:

  1. Consume raw or cooked vegetables such as spinach, celery, etc.
  2. Eat fresh fruits that contain water and mineral contents.
  3. You should chew your foods slowly for a good exercise and muscle movements of your jaw.

18. Soft Foods

One of the primary home remedies to fix lockjaw pain is consuming soft foods. Hard and crunchy foods may put a lot of stress on your jaws.  Moreover some of the soft foods such as broth, stew, soup, etc. can be potent remedy for oral infections, one of the causes of lockjaw.

What You’ll Need:

  • Yogurt, potatoes, cheese, eggs, whole grains

Recommended Directions:

  1. Yogurt is a probiotic food and can inhibit bacterial infections.
  2. You can include vegetable soups, cooked fish, boiled or scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, cheese etc. to your diet.
  3. You may cut or break the food items into pieces to have small bites at a time.


Some Q&A About Lockjaw

Q. What are the common symptoms of Lockjaw?
A. Some common symptoms of lockjaw include:

  • Pain or tenderness in the jaw.
  • Pain around the ears.
  • A difficulty while chewing.
  • Facial pain.
  • The limited ability of opening and closing the mouth.
  • A bad headache.

Q. What are some common causes of Lockjaw?
A.Some common causes include:

  • Radiation therapy applied to the head and neck region.
  • Any form of surgery concerning the head and neck.
  • Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD).
  • Infections like the ones caused by tetanus.
  • Systemic diseases, e.g., rheumatoid arthritis or scleroderma.
  • Direct and indirect trauma to the head and neck.
  • Any form of facial burns.

Bottom Line

Indeed, lockjaw can be a severe nuisance.

It can hamper your day-to-day activities and, also, your important work.

The inability to properly use your jaw for facial expressions may prove to be severely problematic for your work and studies.

It is best that you consult your doctor to get rid of lockjaw immediately. As mentioned already, lockjaw can be caused by tetanus and other bacteria.

So, particularly for tetanus and other infectious diseases, get yourself checked by your doctor and get treatment.

We hope that you will find comfort using these home remedies that are simple and easy to put together.

Also, don’t forget to share your experience with us by leaving your comments below.