One of the most common injuries to the face is a broken jaw.
In fact, taking into account the entire skeletal system, the jaw is the tenth most commonly fractured bone!
The jawbone (or mandible) is the largest bone in the lower part of the face.
When a jaw is broken, fractured, or dislocated, it can cause problems with eating and breathing.
Because of this, immediate medical attention is advised in order to minimise complications and quicken the healing process.
At Comfort Dental Centre Buderim, we know all about jaws and their treatment.
All about broken jaws
If a bone cracks or breaks, the injury is called a fracture. Fractures of the jaw are the third most common type of facial fractures, behind fractures of the cheekbone and nose.
Broken jaws are caused by many kinds of impacts to the lower face, but among the most common are:
- Accidental falls
- Hitting the dashboard during a car accident
- A fall from a motorcycle or bicycle
- A collision or fall during contact sports
- A punch to the jaw
The jawbone is also known as the mandible. It is a long bone that begins with your chin and then angles back and up toward the ear on both sides of your face. A fracture can happen anywhere along the length of this bone and in over 50% of cases, the jaw fractures in two places or more. Typically, the second fracture is near the end of the jawbone, close to the joint. The second fracture is due to the force of impact travelling upward along the jaw and snapping the relatively thin section of the jawbone just below the ear.
Symptoms of a broken jaw include but are not limited to:
- Feeling that your teeth don’t fit together as they should or that your bite is not right
- Bruising, swelling, and tenderness
- Improperly aligned teeth
- Missing teeth or loose teeth
- Swelling or bruises in the gum over the jawbone
- Difficulty opening your mouth
- Pain in your jaw joint
- Numbness in your lower lip or chin
Your doctor will inspect the full length of your jaw, looking shape, symmetry, alignment, swelling, bruising, cuts, or tenderness. Your doctor will also look for ear canal tenderness or numbness in your chin and lower lip.
Your doctor will check to see if your jaw joint opens normally and evenly. While your mouth is open, the doctor will look for loose or broken teeth, tooth alignment problems, and areas of swelling or bruising in your gums.
Finally, to be sure a broken jaw is a problem you will receive either standard X-rays, a special dental panoramic X-ray, or a CT scan.
What to do if you think your jaw is broken or dislocated
A broken jaw requires immediate medical attention. Call emergency services and hold the jaw in place with your hands (or tie it with a tie, belt, or towel) while waiting. Do not attempt to ‘fix’ the position of the jaw by yourself!
Your doctor treats a fractured jaw by connecting the broken pieces of a jawbone with wires or by patching a complete break with metal plates and fine screws. If the skin has been pierced or if teeth were lost or loosened your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic.
Aftercare – prepare for soft foods!
After a simple jaw fracture is treated, healing usually takes one to two months. You won’t do much chewing. Invest in a quality blender and/or a magic bullet, and thicker straws. Liquid health foods will 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 advice, make sure to follow any recommendations we give you at Comfort Dental Centre Buderim. We provide top-notch jaw treatment and complete care to help you heal and regain full jaw function.
Avoiding a broken jaw
Most precautions are obvious, be careful, wear your seatbelt, and don’t get into fights or run on wet pool decks! But one preventative step that we recommend for athletes is to wear a custom-made mouthguard, which can protect against a variety of lip, tooth, and jaw injuries.
Comfort Dental Centre Buderim Cares
Comfort Dental Centre Buderim provides expert care for healthy, beautiful smiles. When you leave our office not only will you be happy with the treatment you received, but also how well you were treated.
We serve patients from Buderim and surrounding areas with top-notch dentistry. Our dental practice in Buderim provides the highest quality of dental care, in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere, with a commitment to excellent customer service.
Call (07) 5370 8865 or visit us at T204B, 32 Wises Road in Buderim.