Trismus is a common problem among oral cancer patients. This report aimed to study the inciting factors of trismus and to find out the rationale of trismus release. Between 1996 and 2008, 61 oral cancer patients with retrievable records of interincisor distance (IID) were analyzed by retrospective chart review. The IID decreased from 31.4 (12.4) to 24.9 (12.0) mm in 36 patients undergoing cancer ablation only (P = 0.001). Other variables prompting trismus include buccal cancer (P = 0.017), radiotherapy (P = 0.008), and recurrence (P = 0.001). In contrast, the IID improved from 11.7 (7.1) to 22.7 (11.9) mm in 25 patients receiving cancer ablative and trismus releasing surgeries (P = 0.000). The improvement fared better in individuals with IID less than 15 mm than the others (P = 0.037). In conclusion, involvement of buccal region, ablative surgery, radiotherapy, and recurrence are provocative factors of trismus. Patients with IID less than 15 mm will benefit from releasing surgery significantly. Others may better be handled with conservative managements firstly, and enrolled as candidates of surgical release only until the patients entertained a 28-month period of disease-free interval, by which time the risk of recurrence would be markedly reduced.
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