The lower jaw (also known as the mandible) is the bone that shapes the lower face, holds the lower teeth in place, and is a vital part of breathing, talking and chewing.
Because they are so important, it is always a threat when they fracture. And they fracture more often than you might think.
A jaw fracture is an extremely common fracture on the human head (behind only the nose) and the 10th most common fracture overall.
Worse, in many cases, there are two fractures as the force that causes a ‘main’ fracture transfers up the jawline creating another breakage near the ear.
Here at Prevent Dental Suite, we know a broken jaw can be painful and confusing, which is why we’re here to share some information that may help you understand and deal with a potentially broken jaw.
Causes of broken jaws
Causes of a broken jaw are generally quick, blunt, trauma.
- Assaults or physical fights that include blows to the face.
- Motor vehicle accidents, commonly involving heads striking steering wheels or dashboards.
- Injuries, particularly those incurred while playing sports.
- Falling and landing on the lower face.
Symptoms of broken jaws
- Jaw pain is the most common symptom.
- Jaw swelling.
- Teeth are misaligned or don’t correctly fit together when the jaws are closed.
- Difficulty completely opening the jaw.
- Deformity in the jaw region.
- Numbness of the chin or lower lip.
- Lost or loose teeth.
- Bleeding in the mouth or change in the normal teeth alignment.
- Bruising beneath the tongue.
- Cuts in the ear canal from the backward movement of the fractured jawbone.
A patient should seek immediate medical care in case of an injury in which teeth do not fit together correctly, or if there is swelling, bleeding inside the mouth, or trouble speaking. The victim should get someone else to drive.
A person with a broken jaw requires immediate medical attention. Call your local hospital or an emergency number for advice.
Keep the jaw in place with your hands on the way to the emergency room. You can also wrap a bandage around the top of the head and under the jaw. The bandage should be easily removable in case you need to vomit. In case a bandage is not available a tie, belt, handkerchief, or similar item can be used to immobilise the jaw. It is also permissible to apply ice or a cold compress on the outside of the swelling.
If there is bleeding be certain to spit the blood out to avoid possible choking.
Broken jaw treatment
Some jaw fractures are stable and only require wiring the upper and lower teeth together to allow healing. An oral and maxillofacial surgeon typically performs this procedure.
More unstable fractures require surgery. Surgical methods using plates, wires, and/or fine screws are used to reconnect or hold bones in place.
Aftercare – prepare for a lot of liquids!
After an uncomplicated jaw fracture is treated, healing usually takes one to two months. In most cases, you will need a blender and/or a magic bullet, and thick straws. Liquid nutritional drinks can be a large part of your diet, but won’t be the only component. There is a wide variety of soups and smoothies. To replace nutrients from solid foods, supplement your smoothies and soups with ground calcium, veggies, and protein powder. Basically, anything creamy and without chewing is an option.
In addition to this, make sure to follow any recommendations from your surgeon or Prevent Dental Suite. We provide complete care to help you heal and regain full jaw function.
Avoiding a broken jaw
Some jaw fractures can be avoided by reducing exposure to trauma of the lower face and chin. Here’s how:
- Always use seat belts and shoulder harnesses when in a car. Seatbelts help protect your face and upper body from dashboard impacts and other injuries.
- Avoid fighting.
- If there are children or seniors in the house, fall-proof it.
- Wear headgear and a mouthguard during contact sports/athletics. In addition to protecting your teeth against impact, mouth guards offer some protection against jaw fractures. The best option for a mouthguard is a customised one, which Prevent Dental Suite can help you with. Custom sports mouthguards provide invaluable protection to teeth for people playing any sports.
High-quality Dental Care at Prevent Dental Suite
Prevent Dental Suites is comprised of dedicated dental professionals who provide gentle and patient-oriented care to offer the best-quality dental service from the moment patients enter into our office.
Parking is easy and free. Parking is located at the rear of the building – access via Storey Road.
Same day dental emergency appointment available!
Call (07) 3886 2428 or visit us at 9/1376 Anzac Ave in Kallangur.