Oral Surgery Broken or Dislocated Jaw
A fracture occurs when a bone is cracks or breaks and this type of injury is often to the face. The third most common type of facial fractures is to the jaw bone. Jaw fractures are often the result of an impact to the lower face which can be caused by,
🞹 Accidental fall, usually children playing or adults that fainted
🞹 Hitting the dashboard during an automobile accident
🞹 Falling off of a bike or motorcycle
🞹 Getting punched in the jaw
🞹 Hard hit, fall or collision during sports
Also referred to as the mandible. The long bone runs the length of your face, angling up towards your ears. Your chin is part of the jaw bone. The ends of the jaw bone are rounded on both sides. The ball-like area is the condyle, and it sits in front of your each. The condyle acts as a hinge, allowing you to open and close your mouth. This joint is also referred to as the TMJ (temporomandibular joint).
Jaw fractures in children are often to the condyles. The fracture typically occurs when the child trip and falls hitting the chin on a hard surface. Teens and adults are more likely to fracture the jaw closer to the chin. This is usually due to fights or their involvement in contact sports.
Any part of the jaw can be fractured in an auto accident. Depending on how hard you hit the dashboard, teeth can also be dislodged. If the broken bits of teeth pierce the gums or damage blood vessels and nerves in the mouth, it might be necessary to contact an emergency dentist immediately. Most hospitals do have a 24-hour dentist on call in the event of an emergency.
Symptoms of a Broken Jaw
Some symptoms that could indicate that you’ve fractured your jaw include,
🞹 Pain in the jaw joints below your ears
🞹 Teeth loose or missing after an impact
🞹 Bruising or swelling in the gums over your jaw
🞹 Trouble fully opening your mouth
🞹 Teeth are unaligned after an impact
🞹 Feeling that your teeth no longer “lineup”
🞹 Tenderness, swelling, and/or bruising along your jaw
🞹 Numbness in your chin or lower lip – this could be a sign of potential nerve damage
Sometimes malocclusion can occur in young children after they’ve fallen and hit their jaw. Malocclusion is when a fractured jaw isn’t discovered until the child is older, sometimes an adult. They often go to the dentist complaining of bite problems, and it’s not until the dental x-ray that the fracture is discovered.
Your doctor or dentist will discuss your symptoms with you and ask a few questions. Mainly, how was your jaw injured?
The next step is to have your jaw examined. This includes looking at its shape, alignment with your face, along with any noticeable signs of bruising, swelling, cuts, deformities or tenderness. The doctor will also check for any numbness in your lower face and tenderness inside your ears. Once the exam is completed, you’ll be asked to open your mouth. This is to determine if your jaw joint is moving evenly. Your teeth will also be checked for any looseness, chips or breaks, and your gums for bruising or swelling.
Your dentist or doctor will also order x-rays of your jaw to ensure that it is the problem. Some patients might also have a dental panoramic x-ray or a CT scan if the fracture is close to the jaw joint.
Length of Time to Heal
Your dentist will tell you that it will take longer than a few weeks for a fractured jaw to heal. If it was an uncomplicated break, recovery time is usually one to two months. More complicated jaw fractures can take longer. If you need an emergency dental procedure your recovery time could be longer.
Preventing Jaw Fractures
There are a few steps you can take to prevent fracturing your jaw and asking if there is an emergency dentist near me. Some preventive measures you can take every day include,
🞹 Always wearing a seat belt with a shoulder harness when you in a moving vehicle. Not only is buckling up the law, but it can also save your jaw from painful fractures.
🞹 When your playing contact sports, always wear a helmet and mouthguard. Not only will a mouth guard protect your teeth, but also your jaw. Look for either a thermoplastic mouth guard or have one custom made for a secure fit.
🞹 Parents should not allow their young children to enroll in boxing classes, this is per the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines.
Either your doctor or dentist will use wires or metal pates and small screws to realign and repair the fractured bone. If you lost teeth or the broken jaw bone cut the inside of your mouth, an antibiotic will be prescribed to reduce any risk of infection. The most commonly prescribed antibiotics are penicillin and clindamycin (Cleocin).