Medical Questions > Conditions and Diseases > TMJ Forum

Locked Jaw from Car Accident

Hi everyone,

I'm posting for my wife (29 years old), who was in a car accident 2 months ago where the airbag hit her in the jaw and caused it to be closed locked at ~30mm.

We found a dentist who specializes in TMJ, and he made her a repositioning splint (fits on the bottom). He explained that there would be a Phase 1 where she would wear the splint 24/7 for 9-12 months, and then there may or may not be a Phase 2 to realign her bite. We figured that after the disc went back into place from the splint her bite would be fine. Now I'm finding out that may not be the case...

From everything I've read it sounds like wearing the splint can cause irreversible changes to your bite, possibly a very bad open bite. Then you will have to do a "Phase 2" full bite reconstruction potentially involving braces, crowns, grinding down teeth, or even reconstructive jaw surgery.

Honestly all of this terrifies us. We just want to fix her displaced disc, not do permanent work to her teeth. I have heard of something called manual manipulation, where they are able to put the disc back in place after an accident. Has anyone had any experience with this? We might like to try this first. My wife has a phobia of dental work and a Phase 2 bite reconstruction is really a last resort.

I read about a dentist that recommended using a stabilizing splint (like a flat plane night guard) to fix TMJ, as opposed to the repositioning splint, because it doesn't change the bite and require phase 2. Has anyone had experience with this working for a locked jaw?

Finally, is it worth trying other forms of conservative treatment like massage, TENS, laser treatment first? We are feeling lost and any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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replied November 3rd, 2017
Experienced User
That sounds a bit overkill, especially for a locked jaw due to a car accident. (the phase 2 part is what I am referring to).

I have used a simple bite stabilizer in the past, and it is a small, seemingly harmless thing that covers the first four teeth on the lower jaw, with a tic-tac sized disc that rests the upper and lower two front teeth in something called the concentric plane. If your alignment was pretty good to begin with before the accident (meaning you have no class 2 or class 3 bites, which seem to be awful occlusions). I'd say, go for it! What have you got to lose?

You just can't wear the stabilizer 24/7 as the teeth that are not making contact when you wear it may likely start to "rotate" and turn at weird angles.

Best to you!
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