24 Hour Emergency Dentist Hotline
0203 750 5307
Please fill in all fields
Your message has been sent successfully!

A Guide to Jaw Injuries

When it comes to dental emergencies, none prove more severe than a jaw injury.

Jaw injuries are normally caused through painful impacts – this could be either a blow to the face in a sports game, or a trip or fall. The after effects can be serious in many cases and plenty of discomfort will be felt for a considerable amount of time after the accident.  A traumatic injury like this also has a negative impact, not just on the jaw itself, but also on other parts of the body. For instance, if you sustain a jaw injury, you could also see damage to your teeth, face and mouth and possibly the neck. Because there are so many potential problems after sustaining a jaw injury, it is therefore vital that you see an emergency dentist as soon as you can to get checked over – or even go to the hospital if you think the jaw injury could be serious.

Importance of emergency treatment after breaking the jaw

You would be silly not to seek urgent professional advice after breaking or dislocating your jaw. Why? If your jaw is not treated effectively and quickly to get it back to its original state, the jaw and teeth may become misaligned. The longer you leave it, the more difficult it will be to get your face back to normal again. Time really is of the essence in this respect.

Having an out of line jaw and teeth will obviously cause you a lot of discomfort initially and there will also be problems when it comes to talking normally and eating.

Unbeknown to many people, when you are talking or eating, you put a lot of pressure on the jawbone, and this pressure increases two-fold if the jaw is out of line or dislocated. Talking and eating in this case would cause you considerable discomfort and would also put untold pressure on your teeth. Put simply, if you leave the jaw as it is and don’t get it seen to immediately, you are running the risk of extreme problems further down the line and are also increasing the chances of excessive pressure on the teeth which will eventually wear them down and damage them.

In some cases, inhaling and exhaling has proved a problem for certain people suffering from jaw issues, which shows the seriousness of the situation. If left, it is also known that a broken jaw can lead to an infection.

How can I tell if my jaw is broken or dislocated?

In most cases, you will know straight away if you have broken your jaw. The pain will be excruciating and you will probably feel that something is not right almost immediately. On the other hand, however, there are some people that are not even aware that there is a problem with their jaw. You may find this strange, but it is true.

What tends to happen is that people will take a blow to the face which will make them concussed or disorientated and this will mean that they struggle to feel pain immediately; adrenaline will then kick in and only when they have come round will they start to realise that something isn’t right and they have received a traumatic injury to the face.

People who have broken a jaw will generally find it hard talking and may find breathing is a challenge too. Bleeding is also common.

Treatment for a broken jaw

As soon as an incident occurs and you think you have broken your jaw, you will need to source and undergo emergency treatment without delay. This also applies if you have dislocated your jaw. The reason you will need emergency treatment is because the jaw will need to be pushed back into its natural position as soon as possible – and only a trained professional will know how to do this properly. Many people think that they will be able to realign the jaw on their own, but this is not advised as you may cause further complications for yourself further down the line if this is done incorrectly. It will also be extremely painful without medical assistance.

This being said, there are a couple of things that can be done by yourself or by others who are prepared to help you, that will help the situation and give you a little bit more comfort whilst you wait to be seen.

For instance, to halt the swelling, you should put an ice compress to the side of the face and this should keep the swelling at bay. Similarly, if you are bleeding from the impact, you may need something to catch the blood flow. A rag or something similar should be sufficient. Make sure that you are in a comfortable position where you can breathe easily as this can be difficult after this kind of injury has been sustained.

The course of action that the professional will take will come down to how badly broken or dislocated the jaw is in the first place. For example, if the break is classed as bad, the jaw will need to be realigned into its natural position and will also need an additional support to hold it there until it fully sets back into place. A liquid diet will also need to be undertaken. Medication can be given to help relax the muscles around the surrounding area and then the professional will set about the task of putting the jaw back into place by hand – this may not sound or feel very nice, but it is the most effective way of getting the jaw back to where it should be.  After this point, the jaw will probably be wired into place and this will remain in place for anything up to two months. During this period, depending on how well the jaw is responding, this support may be lessened gradually so that the jaw can heal on its own.

Many people who have broken a jaw in the past still have aches and pains in the area from time to time; this is perfectly normal and you too should expect a few twinges as it will always be nearly impossible to line the jaw back as perfectly as it once was – which is the reason it may ache occasionally. Surgery is in an option if the pain gets too much to bear.

In some extreme cases however, the aforementioned method of realignment probably still isn’t good enough to get the jaw back to its original state. Severely broken jaws will require surgery immediately, but the process will still be the same. The jaw will be gradually moved back into its original position and will be wired to provide extra support.

Hopefully, however, you will be lucky and will have received only a minor break on the jaw. If this is the case, a liquid diet will probably be recommended so that you aren’t putting excessive pressure on the fragile area, and painkillers will probably be suggested so that pain isn’t felt. Your jaw bone can recover naturally from a small breakage and is known to be able to re-set itself after a period of about a month or so.