Locked jaw syndrome in dogs and cats: 37 cases (1998-2005)

J Vet Dent. 2008 Mar;25(1):16-22. doi: 10.1177/089875640802500106.


A consecutive series of cases of dogs and cats with locked jaw syndrome (inability to open or close the mouth) are reported in this study. Dogs were significantly overrepresented (84.0%) and adult dogs were more frequently affected (81.0%). Temporomandibular joint ankylosis due to fracture was the most common cause (54.0%) of locked jaw syndrome. Additional potential causes of locked jaw syndrome are masticatory muscle myositis, neoplasia, trigeminal nerve paralysis and central neurological lesions, temporomandibular joint luxation and dysplasia, osteoarthritis, retrobulbar abscess, tetanus, and severe ear disease. Treatment of locked jaw is directed towards the primary cause. It is important to treat the tonic spasm in order to minimize periarticular fibrosis. Surgical intervention is recommended for temporomandibular joint ankylosis. Masticatory muscle myositis treatment is initiated by gradually opening the mouth, with medical treatment based on immunosuppressive therapy. Fracture and masticatory muscle myositis are associated with a relatively good prognosis in regard to short-term outcome as compared to animals with central neurologic lesions or osteosarcoma which have a poor prognosis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cat Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cat Diseases / etiology
  • Cat Diseases / therapy
  • Cats
  • Dog Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Dog Diseases / etiology
  • Dog Diseases / therapy
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Illinois / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Records
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction Syndrome / veterinary*
  • Veterinary Medicine