Q: Why is my dog in so much pain when she tries to open her mouth wide?

Original Question: "My dog yelps when she eats as she is in pain. She doesn’t want to eat and cannot open her mouth wide?" - Brandie

Vet Certified Answer | Answered: December 28, 2017

Hi Brandie,

Thanks for your question.

There is very little information in your question but I will try my best to give you a thorough answer.

When you say that the pain occurs when the jaw is opened wide, that would suggest that there is a concern with the temporomandibular joint or TMJ. This is the joint where the jaw meets the skull. The first thing to consider would be radiographs of the area. It's possible to have degenerative joint disease, much like arthritis in this area which can cause pain. There can also be a luxation occurring when the mouth is open to a maximum extent. The bone could actually pop out of the fossa where it is supposed to sit which can be extremely uncomfortable. A less likely possibility would be a painful growth or tumor occurring in the area. Radiographs would help determine if one of these is occurring.

I would also recommend that your veterinarian have a thorough look throughout the oral cavity. It's possible that there is dental disease, which is a common reason for pain. There may be nerve exposure or a fractured molar which could be causing these symptoms.

These are good places to start. I wish you luck.

Dr. Clayton Greenway

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