Trismus Program

Trismus is a term used to describe limited mouth opening. 

There are a number of causes for this condition such as:

  • trauma
  • surgery to the head and neck
  • stroke
  • radiation

Surgery and radiation therapy can injure the tissues involved in opening the mouth. Fibrosis (scarring) can develop as the tissues begin to heal from surgery. Fibrosis can also build up years after radiation therapy.

Muscle and other fibers shorten and tighten, which makes it harder to open your mouth. Pain, inflammation and degenerative joint changes are secondary effects of trismus. 

Trismus can affect: Oral hygiene including increased cavities and infections, chewing and/or swallowing difficulties, speech and oral exams.

The Trismus Program at Beaumont includes a comprehensive evaluation and individualized treatment program. Treatment for trismus helps to maintain and restore the ability to open the mouth. Techniques provided by speech language pathologists include:

  • stretching connective tissue
  • strengthening muscles that have weakened
  • mobilizing the joint and reducing pain and inflammation.

Passive motion has been demonstrated to be most effective and can be achieved using 2 commercially available devices, Therabite and Dynasplint. These devices gradually increase mouth opening at a rate that is dependent on the patient's tolerance.  The patient is trained how to use the device and progress is monitored and a maintenance program is established when goals have been achieved.