A fractured jaw can be hard to endure, and healing can depend on how badly displaced the fracture is. And sometimes, no matter how careful one is, accidents happen at the most unexpected time.
It may or may not require surgery. Either way, healing can be quick if the recommendations of the doctor on how to manage it at home are followed.
What is a fractured jaw?
Let’s start identifying what fracture is first.
A partial or total break in the bone is known as a fracture. When a fracture occurs, it can be classified as an open fracture or a closed fracture.
When the mandible (jaw) bone is broken, this is known as a jaw fracture or broken jaw. The jaw is one of the most commonly fractured bones, usually caused by sudden trauma.
What causes a fractured jaw?
Broken jaws are frequently caused by:
- Accidental falls, especially those in which one can’t use their hands to catch themselves
- Accidents involving vehicles, including motorcycles and bicycles
- Injury-related to sports
- Incidents at industrial workplaces
- A punch to the jaw or other assaults
Fractured jaws can also quickly happen if one has an osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) genetic condition, which causes brittle bones that break easily.
The jawbone can also be dislocated. A dislocation occurs when the lower jawbone slips out of one of the two TMJs, which link the mandible to the skull.
What are the symptoms of a broken jaw?
The most obvious signs of a broken jaw are pain, swelling, and bleeding.
Here are other symptoms to look out for:
- Bleeding, which includes oral bleeding
- Breathing problems
- Annoyance when chewing
- Jaw rigidity
- Numbness and facial bruising
- Discomfort brought on by dental issues, such as numb gums or loose teeth
The jaw may hurt and become rigid as the entire face swells. In addition, some people may have trouble breathing due to mouth bleeding because the airways may become blocked by blood flow.
The most discomfort and tenderness can come when one with a fracture speaks or chews. So when experiencing a severe jaw fracture, one might only be able to move the jaw a little or not at all.
It is also typical to have numbness and to bleed from the gums and face. The shape of your face may also change due to the broken bone. The injury’s impact may also result in lost teeth or to become loose.
How is a broken jaw diagnosed?
A broken jaw should be taken as an emergency. Proceed to SilverLake ER.
Aside from an initial physical examination, here are the other test the doctor will ask:
Taken to look for fractured or misaligned bones. For mandibular fractures, three different X-ray views can be taken: a posteroanterior view, typically used for angle and ramus fractures; a reverse Towne view, an angled anteroposterior view that is helpful when condylar fragments are displaced; and a bilateral oblique view, typically used to examine the angle and horizontal branch of the mandible.
It helps check for internal bleeding after an accident, other facial fractures, or a fractured upper jaw. This is the preferred diagnostic method today for evaluating and diagnosing mandibular fractures on radiographs.
How is a broken jaw treated?
Treatment for a fractured jaw depends on how severe the condition is.
Here are some of the treatments used for a broken jaw:
Depending on the severity of the damage, surgery may also be necessary to treat a jaw fracture. While the jaw is immobilized, clean breaks might heal on their own. However, multiple fractures of the jawbone or displaced breaks in the part of the bone that’s pushed off to one side may require surgical repair.
The healthcare professional might suggest or administer painkillers. One of the most common painkillers prescribed is acetaminophen.
Acetaminophen is accessible without a prescription. Ask your doctor how much to take and how frequently. If acetaminophen is not taken according to the prescribed dosage, liver damage may result.
The jaw may be only fixed and prevented from moving using jaw wire. This will aid in proper bone healing. A small pair of wire cutters will be provided for you to use in an emergency. You will learn how to use the cutters and when to use them from your healthcare provider.
If there is an open wound, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics. Antibiotic medications are used to either prevent or treat bacterial infections.
Avoid touching or probing the sutured oral wound with anything sharp. The suture used to close oral wounds is typically resorbable. Sutures are typically removed a week following surgery when the wound has healed.
Smokers must also quit because it will slow wound healing and increase their chance of developing an infection.
For both open and close reduction, the arch bars and wires are typically retained inside the mouth for 4-6 weeks. Patients must exert more effort when brushing since they tend to acquire food particles.
After surgery, patients may find it difficult to brush their teeth vigorously; nevertheless, they can use a soft toothbrush or a child-sized toothbrush.
In order to avoid wound infection, patients are typically instructed to use the antiseptic mouthwash given by the doctor 2 or 3 times per day. In addition, the patient is instructed to rinse with water after every meal to maintain a healthy mouth.
Antiseptic mouthwash lowers the risk of gum disease and wound infection by lowering oral cavity bacteria.
How long does it take for a broken jaw to heal?
Most people heal from a jaw fracture in 4 to 8 weeks. Less time is frequently needed for less severe fractures. Getting new teeth could take a little longer if one has lost some. That procedure typically starts once the jawbone has recovered.
What complications may result from a fractured jaw?
Breathing difficulties may result from a badly broken jawbone, mainly if concomitant face fractures occur.
Wire cutters should always be in one’s possession if the jaws were wired shut during surgery. Also, if one feels like choking or wants to throw up, one might need to cut the wire.
How can you prevent a broken jaw?
The accidents and injuries that result in broken or dislocated jaws frequently cannot be avoided.
However, wearing these might reduce the chances of it:
- When riding motorcycles, bikes, or scooters, skiing, or participating in contact sports, use helmets, facemasks, and mouthguards.
- Protective headgear while working.
- Automobile seat belts.
What should I expect during fractured jaw recovery?
Nursing a fractured jaw can be complex, especially if one undergoes surgery.
Here are the things to expect:
- There will be follow-up checkups.
- Follow all dietary advice and take antibiotics as directed.
- A broken jaw will usually mend with treatment in a month or two.
- Avoid opening your mouth wide for a few weeks as your dislocated jaw heals.
How to manage jaw fracture
The recovery speed of a jaw fracture also depends a lot on how one follows the doctor’s recommendations.
Here’s how to properly manage a jaw fracture at home:
Ice reduces pain and swelling. Ice might also minimize tissue deterioration. Use an ice pack or a plastic bag filled with crushed ice. Before applying it to your face, wrap it in a towel. Then, for 15 to 20 minutes every hour, apply ice or as instructed.
Use of a soft diet
You might have to limit your diet to soft foods if your mouth is not wired. Applesauce, bananas, cooked cereal, cottage cheese, gelatin, pudding, and yogurt are a few examples. For more information about the kinds of foods, you can eat, speak with your healthcare physician.
You must consume foods combined with liquids if your jaw is wired. These foods must be consumed with a straw or syringe.
When the jaw is wired, healthy eating entails eating more regularly than one is accustomed to. Aim for six to eight modest meals daily rather than three or four.
One can consume the necessary calories by eating small meals throughout the day.
Avoid opening your mouth wide
When there’s an urge to yawn or sneeze, hold the mouth shut by placing a hand or fist under the chin.
Clean the fracture with a clean cloth several times a day
One must maintain all areas inside the mouth clean following surgery, just like with any surgical incision.
Medical professionals will demonstrate how to do this. Cleaning the mouth will help you clean the teeth and eliminate food particles. One can use a clean cloth, or to easily access all areas of the teeth, use a soft, child-sized toothbrush.
A water flosser will also assist in removing food fragments and other debris from between the teeth. Finally, to prevent chapped lips, dab some petroleum jelly on them.
Avoid strenuous activity
Play no sports or do heavy work as the jaw recovers. The broken jaw could bleed, bruise readily, or fracture once more.
Find out from the doctor when it is okay to resume athletic and other strenuous activities.
When should I call the doctor?
If these symptoms persist, they aren’t ordinary and should not only be managed at home.
Go to Silverlake ER immediately for utmost care.
- Experiencing respiratory problems.
- Feeling dizzy and there’s shortness of breath.
- When coughing or taking deep breaths, there’s chest pain.
- Sneezing blood
- The leg or arm is heated, uncomfortable, and tender. It might appear red and bloated.
Few words from SilverLake ER
A fractured jaw is an emergency that can happen at any time of the day, most unexpectedly. But it’s not a helpless case as there are treatment options, and recovery can be swift if appropriately managed at home, especially after surgery.
One should immediately proceed to get medical help right away. SilverLake ER in Pearland, Texas offers hospital-level treatment from trained emergency personnel physicians. It is a full-service freestanding ER providing urgent medical care 24/7.
Therefore, whether the incident happens at midnight, having health professionals look into it is not a problem with SilverLake ER.