Jaw fractures are among the most common types of bone fractures in the human body. Most of the time, the jawbone is broken by a direct trauma.

What causes jaw fractures?

According to statistics, most common causes of jaw injuries reported include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Physical attacks
  • Sports
  • Falls

How to know if you have a broken jaw?

A broken jaw is likely to be accompanied with jaw pain. You may feel like your teeth do not fit together find it hard to open your jaw all the way. Speaking difficulties and swelling are also common. The broken jawbone may cause nerve damage, resulting in numbness of the chin and lower lip. If you look into your mouth, you may notice bleeding, abnormal teeth lineup, or bruising under the tongue. The fracture may even cause a cut in the ear canal.

If you see those symptoms after you have been injured, seek medical help as soon as possible but remember to avoid driving. Jaw injuries may lead to breathlessness due to the lack of support to the tongue. This problem is serious and needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

Diagnosis of jaw fractures

Your doctor will perform a physical exam first. He or she will monitor your face for visible deformity and swelling. The doctor will also look for damage to the TMJ joint (temporomandibular joint), nerves, and blood vessels. Then, the doctor will proceed to feel your jawbone through the skin.

Your jawbone’s movement will be evaluated. The doctor may ask you to bite down on something and check your teeth for misalignment.

To check the stability of your jawbone, the doctor will ask you to keep a flat wooden stick between your teeth to see if you can hold it in place.

You may need an X-ray of your jawbone and a CT scan to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment for jaw fractures

Having jaw pain does not necessarily mean you have a fracture. If no fracture is detected, your doctor will give you painkillers and instruct you to eat soft foods for a while, then check up again to see if it works.

In case you broke your jawbone, treatment options depend on the severity of the fractures. Serious fractures and dislocation may require surgical repair. During recovery, the jaw is often wired shut. Your doctor will wrap a bandage around your chin and over your head so you cannot open your mouth too widely. Swelling and pain are managed with anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve). A jaw fracture takes time to heal. You will not be able to open your jaw for at least 6 weeks. You will also need a special diet made of fluids to keep up with your nutritional requirements during recovery.

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

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