Biomechanical modeling of open locks of the human temporomandibular joint

M. Tuijt, J.H. Koolstra, F. Lobbezoo, M. Naeije

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Patients with hypermobility of the temporomandibular joint may have problems closing their mouth after opening widely. In the worst case, the mandibular condyles become trapped in front of the articular eminences and the jaw muscles cannot reposition them into the fossae (open lock). The difference in ease of closing the jaw between patients and non-patients is presently not well understood.

Wide opening and subsequent jaw closing were simulated with a biomechanical model in a forward dynamics approach. The effect of anterior slope angle and orientation of jaw-closing muscles on condylar travel was determined.

The mandibular condyles traveled anterior of the eminences and back into the fossae uneventfully with backwardly oriented jaw closers and eminences with a gentle anterior slope. However, combinations of relatively forward oriented jaw closers and a steep anterior slope caused the condyles to continue traveling anteriorly upon jaw-closing attempts, ending in an open lock position.

Our results indicate that for the masticatory system to reach an open lock, various unfavorable combinations of jaw-closer orientation and anterior slope angle exist within normal physiological ranges. These findings could be relevant for maxillofacial surgeons, both for the diagnostic process and for clinical decisions, regarding patients suffering from open locks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)749-753
JournalClinical Biomechanics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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