Jaw pain can result from many different things, including traumatic facial injuries. One of the most serious injuries that lead to jaw pain is a fractured jaw. A fractured jaw is surprisingly common.
On the face, only the nose is broken more often, and a broken jaw is the 10th most commonly fractured bone in the human body. Fractures generally result from direct force or trauma to the chin or lower face.
Jaw fractures can be extremely dangerous and painful. At Smiles Nambour, we want to warn you what the symptoms of a broken jaw are, what to do if you think you have one, and how it will likely be treated. Then, if you or a loved one is unfortunate enough to fracture a jaw, you’ll know exactly what to do!
Typical causes of fractured jaws
Common causes of jaw fractures are:
- Accidental fall (children while playing, adults fainting)
- A motorcycle or bicycle accident in which the rider goes over the handlebars
- Motor vehicle accidents in which the person hits the dashboard or steering wheel with their chin
- An injury during a sporting event
- Violence in which a person is struck in the jaw
Common signs and symptoms of a jaw fracture:
- Bruising, swelling, or tenderness along the jawline or below the ear
- The feeling that the teeth don’t fit together properly
- Missing or loose teeth
- Swelling or black and blue discolouration of the gum over the jawbone, or under the tongue
- Difficulty opening the mouth
- Pain in the jaw or at the jaw joint
- Numbness in the lower lip or chin
- Shifting of the lower jaw when the mouth is opened
How is it diagnosed?
In cases of facial trauma and pain including broken jaws, diagnosis is performed by a doctor at a hospital or other emergency clinic. X-rays or CT scans are usually taken to determine if a fracture exists and how severe it is.
- A less severe fracture is diagnosed when a bone is still in place but shows a small fracture line at the point the bone has broken.
- A more severe fracture can mean a larger fracture line, partially displaced bone sections, or a dislocation.
- An extreme fracture means displaced segments of bone or bone fragments, with a significant change in bone structure.
Treatment of a fractured jaw
Treatment for a broken jaw is typically carried out under a general anaesthetic. There are two common procedures.
1) Metal Plates. The majority of jaw fractures are repaired using small metal plates. This means cutting the gums to expose the fractured bones. Metal plates are screwed into the bones on each side of the fracture to hold the bones firmly together. Once the plates are in the proper position, the gums are stitched back in place with dissolvable stitches.
2) Jaws Wired Together. Sometimes it may be required to wire your jaws together. A metal bar is attached to teeth in both jaws using small wires wrapped around the teeth. The upper and lower jaws are then joined together with either elastic bands (removable) or with wires (not removable).
Aftercare for fractured jaws
- Eat soft or blended foods. Particularly if the jaw is wired, you need foods that have been blended with liquids and are consumed through a straw or syringe. If your mouth is not wired shut, you may be put on a diet of soft foods.
- Apply ice. Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Apply as directed.
- Clean your mouth 4-6 times each day. Smiles Nambour staff can show you how to do this with a small toothbrush or water flosser.
- Do not play sports while recuperating. Don’t allow any pressure/impact on your jaw and sleep on your back.
Avoiding fractured jaws
Those at highest risk for a fracture of the jaw are those people who engage in risky behaviours, so one strategy is to avoid those. Wear your seatbelt, wear protective gear on bicycles and motorcycles, and avoid fights.
If you are an athlete, there is one additional step to take. Visit Smiles Nambour to get a customised mouthguard. Your dentist supplies Custom-fitted mouthguards. The fabrication process is thorough to ensure that it is perfect for your size. They are rubber-like and allow proper breathing and speaking while protecting the teeth, mouth, and jaw during sports and athletics.
Dentistry at Smiles Nambour
Smiles Nambour is the perfect choice for dental care in the Nambour area. We provide top-notch dental services of all kinds to patients of every age! Our professional staff is dedicated to providing you with personalised, quality dental care, for routine cleanings, jaw health, and all other dental issues.
Smiles Nambour offers a comprehensive array of general, restorative, and cosmetic dental services for you and your loved ones.
A visit to Smiles Nambour is an investment in your dental health and attractive smile!
Same Day Appointment Available, Request it Now!
Call (07) 5441 4438 or visit us at 4/104 Currie St in Nambour.