Jaw fractures can result from:
- Car accidents
- Sport and other recreational activity injuries
- Osteoporosis, the brittle bone disease (see page 363)
Signs and Symptoms
- Jaw pain, swelling, or numbness
- Not being able to close the jaw normally
- Difficulty in drinking, speaking, and swallowing
- Discoloration of the jaw area
- Jaw area is tender to touch
A fractured jaw needs to be reset with surgery. After surgery the upper and lower teeth are wired together to let the jawbones heal. Recovery includes a liquid diet, pain relievers, and muscle relaxants, if needed. Your doctor will prescribe medicines that are best for you.
A physical exam and X-ray can be done to tell for certain if the jaw has been fractured. A CAT scan may be done.
Questions to Ask
Has an injury occurred that has caused pain, tenderness to touch, swelling, discoloration, and an inability to close the jaw?
Have these symptoms occurred even in the absence of an injury?
Do these things until you get emergency care.
- Try not to talk. Write notes instead.
- Close your mouth and secure the jaw with a necktie, towel, or scarf tied around your head and chin. Remove this if vomiting occurs. Rebandage when vomiting stops.
- Hold an ice pack against the fractured bone. This can reduce pain and swelling.