12 Effective Ways to Get Rid of Lock Jaw

As the name implies, lock jaw is a condition in which the jaw is locked in place, preventing the mouth from opening fully and functioning properly.

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 lock jaw include 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 lock jaw to help ease the stiffness and pain in this part of your mouth.

1. Exercise

Obviously, you don’t want to subject your jaw to too much pressure, as it would only aggravate the condition.

However, it has been shown in numerous studies that gentle exercises can increase jaw movement as well as 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 lock jaw [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 effective for lock jaw are biofeedback training, postural correction and other relaxation techniques [6].

In another study featured in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation, 18 patients with lock jaw 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 for jaw exercise

Recommended Directions:

  • Every morning, set aside a time for exercising your jaws.
  • Begin by pressing your chin gently to open the mouth a little.
  • Lift it back again to close the mouth.
  • 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 lock jaw?

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 including heart rate, muscle tension and blood pressure.

Yes, these are involuntary processes but patients are taught how to influence them to treat several conditions like 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 injury in 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 reveal that both therapies were effective in alleviating the condition [9].

What You’ll Need:

  • Stress reduction exercises

Recommended Directions:

  • Engage in stress reduction exercises such as biofeedback training, yoga, meditation, and deep breathing.
  • Perform several yoga poses twice a day for one to two weeks.
  • Set aside time for deep breathing and meditation during the day.
  • It’s also a good idea to get a massage therapy twice a day for one to two months.
  • And be sure to get plenty of rest too.

3. Cold Compress

Many people rely on cold compress for pain relief in various situations. It can also provide respite to those with lock jaw.

Cold therapy is believed to alleviate pain by disrupting the nerve transmission in the fibers that are in charge of pain sensation [10].

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

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

Their main 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 apply it directly as you don’t want your skin getting too cold.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup of ice cubes

Recommended Directions:

  • Wrap ice cubes with a towel.
  • Gently apply on the jaw for 10 minutes to relieve stiffness.
  • 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 lock jaw.

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:

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

5. Chamomile Tea

Herbal teas are also popular treatment suggestions for lock jaw.

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

Chamomile tea, which has been considered an effective 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:

  • Pour water into a pot.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Transfer water into a cup.
  • Add chamomile flowers.
  • Cover the cup.
  • Let it steep for 15 minutes.
  • Strain the tea.
  • Open your mouth slightly.
  • Sip the tea slowly using a straw.
  • 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 natural treatment for colds and other respiratory infections [16].

For those who complain of lock jaw, Echinacea can also help.

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

Simply put, it can ameliorate 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:

  • Chop ginger and put in a cup.
  • Add Echinacea.
  • Boil water in a teapot.
  • Pour it into the cup.
  • Steep for 20 minutes.
  • Add honey.
  • Stir well.
  • Drink while warm.
  • Sip slowly using a straw.
  • Do this technique twice a day until jaw stiffness is gone.

7. Chili Pepper

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

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 lock jaw, 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 chilli pepper on the skin will produce stinging sensation so you have to limit the amount, and not use this remedy for a long period.

What You’ll Need:

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

Recommended Directions:

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

8. Valerian

One of the many ways lock jaw 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 lock jaw, 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:

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

9. Peppermint

Getting relief from pain caused by lock jaw 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:

  • Boil water in a pot.
  • Add peppermint leaves.
  • Simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Drink the tea using a straw twice a day for one to two weeks.
  • Combine peppermint oil and almond oil.
  • Apply on the jaw area, and massage using small circular motions.
  • 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, Mediterannean 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 lock jaw, 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 effective 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:

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

11. Rose Oil

Native to Europe and 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 lock jaw 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:

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

12. Clary Sage Oil

Painful conditions like lock jaw can be alleviated with 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:

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

Lock jaw can be a serious nuisance.

Consult your doctor to get immediate treatment particularly for tetanus and other infectious diseases.

Find comfort using these home remedies that are simple and easy to put together.