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Definition

What is broken jaw?

A broken or dislocated jaw is an injury to one or both of the joints that connect your lower jawbone to the skull. Each of these joints is called the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The TMJ can break, crack, or become unhinged from the skull. The unhinging of the jaw joint is known as a dislocation.

A broken, fractured, or dislocated jaw can create problems with eating and breathing. Immediate medical attention is necessary to minimize complications and accelerate healing.

How common is broken jaw?

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of broken jaw?

The common symptoms of broken jaw are:

  • Pain
  • Swelling, including facial swelling
  • Bleeding, including bleeding from the mouth
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Discomfort when chewing
  • Jaw stiffness
  • Numbness and bruising in the face
  • Dental-related discomfort, such as numbness in the gums or loosened teeth

Pain, swelling, and bleeding are the most immediate symptoms of a broken jaw. Your entire face can swell, making your jaw painful and stiff. Bleeding from the mouth can occur, causing breathing difficulties in some people. The blood flow can block your airways. You may experience the most pain and tenderness when chewing or speaking. If you have a severe jaw fracture, you might experience limited ability to move your jaw or be unable to move your jaw at all.

Numbness and bruising in the face and gums are also normal to have if your jaw is fractured or broken. Breaking the bone can cause other abnormalities with the shape of your face. You might notice that your jaw or face has a lumpy appearance. The impact of your injury could also cause loosened or lost teeth.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes broken jaw?

Experiencing facial trauma is the primary cause of a broken or dislocated jaw. The jawbone extends from your chin to behind your ear. Common types of injury that can cause fractures or dislocations in the jawbone are:

  • Physical assault in the face
  • Sports injuries
  • Vehicle accidents
  • Accidental falls in the home
  • Industrial or workplace accidents

Risk factors

What increases my risk for broken jaw?

Please consult with your doctor for more information.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is broken jaw diagnosed?

Your doctor will diagnose a broken jaw or dislocation by asking you your history, doing a physical exam, and taking relevant X-rays. A simple dislocation could be treated by an oral surgeon or dentist.

A serious fracture that requires surgery would need a specialist, such as a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon, a head and neck surgeon, or an oral surgeon.

How is broken jaw treated?

Treatment for a jaw fracture or break might also require surgery, depending on the extent of the injury. Clean breaks may heal on their own while your jaw is immobilized. Multiple fractures of the jawbone or displaced breaks in the part of the bone that’s pushed off to one side may require surgical repair.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage broken jaw?

You will need to follow a soft diet as you recover from a dislocated or broken jaw. Avoid foods that are crunchy or chewy if you have a dislocation or minor fracture that will heal on its own. Items such as fresh meats, raw produce, or crunchy snack foods can cause strain and pain to your healing jaw. A soft diet that includes the following can be easy to chew:

  • Canned meat
  • Well-cooked pasta
  • Well-cooked rice
  • Soup
  • Canned fruit

A wired jaw will need an even more drastic dietary change. Because you won’t be able to open and close your mouth, you’ll need to get your daily allowance of vitamins and minerals through a straw during your recovery. Getting enough calories can be a concern for some people with jaw injuries. Pureed foods prepared with whole milk or cream can help add calories when needed. Pureeing fruits, vegetables, and well-cooked meats can give you the protein and other nutrients you need to stay healthy. You can use oatmeal, cream of wheat, and other soft grains as the base for your meals.

Healthy eating while your jaw is wired means eating more frequently than you’re probably used to doing. Instead of eating three or four meals per day, aim for six to eight small meals. Eating small amounts throughout the day helps you meet your required calorie count. Smaller, more frequent meals can also provide a variety of flavors when you’re drinking eight smoothies each day.

Drink milk and juice to boost your calorie count. Cut back on water, coffee, tea, and diet soda. These beverages have no calories. They will not help you sustain your weight while you’re on a restrictive diet.

Eat lukewarm foods. Your teeth may be more sensitive than usual after your injury, and extreme temperatures on either side of the spectrum can hurt. Consider choosing baby food to accommodate your need for vitamins. Use water or milk to thin heavier soups, gravies, or jarred foods if their consistency is too thick to get through a straw.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: October 24, 2017 | Last Modified: October 24, 2017

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