jaw joint pain and locking after root canal


Jaw joint pain and locking after root canal suggests a meniscal injury

I recently (2 within the past 4 months) had 2 root canals, side by side, lower molars. After the first procedure I did not experience any jaw pain but it did take a while for other pain to diminish.

I had the second root canal about 3 weeks ago. It took about 1h 45 to complete. I had no jaw pain until about a week ago and now I cannot open my mouth all the way (the pain stops me from this).

I also have neck pain and a protruding clavicle. I did go to dentist about a week ago and was told the jaw pain was from the injection that went into the muscle and caused some bruising etc.

Should I be concerned about these symptoms?

I am also clenching my teeth; I have a mouth guard but do not want to use until my root canals have healed and temporary caps are put in and using it will put pressure on my last back molar that rises above the rest (an old filling in the tooth).

I will welcome any suggestions you might have. This is a miserable feeling.

Thank you.

Hello Charisse.
Filling in a few gaps, I presume you had jaw joint issues before these two root canals; hence the bruxism.

What you are describing sounds more like a displaced meniscus in one of the jaw joints; hence you're unable to open your mouth fully. Does it click or pop?

Over opening of the mouth is one of the causes but it's relatively rare during routine dental work in the chair; you would have yelled before he could open your mouth that much. And I would have expected the locking to have started almost immediately, not a week later.

So, I'm thinking of an old injury, exacerbated perhaps by such prolonged dental work.

My best suggestion at this stage is to start of TMJ exercises; do them slowly and gently. They shouldn't cause pain.

If it doesn't help then you need to find a local chiropractor who works with the jaw joint; you'll have to shop around a bit.

The sensory nucleus of the trigeminal nerve that supplies the jaw joint lies in the upper cervical spine, so there is often overlapping neck pain. Are you getting headaches?

You might try gentle massaging the external pterygoid muscle in the so-called pocket; if it's red hot then it's part of the problem. Slide your index finger of the opposite hand into your mouth, pulp facing outwards, passed the upper molars into a little gap; poke around and see if there's an exquisitely painful spot. Your dentist will help you.

Let me know how you get on.

Dr B



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