A broken jaw is no fun; it’s the tenth most common bone to be broken in the body and the third most common in the face. Your jaw is made up of an upper jaw and a lower jaw called the mandible. The mandible is much more mobile than your upper jaw and is responsible for most of the work involved in talking, chewing, and opening and closing the mouth. It’s also more prone to injury! But luckily, we’re here with helpful tips and tricks to take you through the recovery process as smoothly as possible.
Men between the ages of 20-30 are most susceptible to jaw fractures, but anyone can experience a broken jaw. The most common causes are:
- Car accidents
- Sports injuries
- Assault, whether by a fist or hard object
- Face-first falls
A broken jaw is a serious matter, causing major pain and making the patient susceptible to further injury or infection. As such, the first form of treatment you should seek out should be from an emergency clinic, not a dentist.
It’s best to go to a large hospital with diverse departments. There will likely be oral surgeons on call who can see you immediately, assess the damage to your jaw and go about treating it with the best medical expertise. A fractured jaw makes itself known; the pain will be hard to ignore. If you’re experiencing severe pain along with any of the following symptoms, you should get yourself to a hospital as soon as possible:
- The feeling that your teeth do not fit together properly when the jaw is closed
- Being unable to open your mouth all the way
- A numb chin or lip
- Being unable to fully close your mouth
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Extreme bruising around the jaw
- Difficulty speaking
A fractured jaw may also cause breathing issues due to lack of support of the tongue. This is especially serious and requires emergency medical attention, so call 9-1-1 if you or anyone else incurs jaw trauma and experiences subsequent breathing issues.
A fractured jaw is tricky to treat. You can put a cast around a broken arm or leg; not so for your jaw. Luckily, many fractures are stable. Like with ribs, as long as the break is immobilized it has a good chance of healing correctly.
Stable fractures can be treated by wiring the upper and lower teeth together. Eating, drinking, and speaking are obviously difficult with your jaw wired shut. You’ll still be able to talk but it will be like talking with your jaw clenched. A doctor will show you how to use a syringe to ingest food. Your diet will be largely liquid until your doctor decides you’re recovered and releases your jaw from the wiring.
Not all fractures are simple. Some involve multiple breaks, splintered bones or other affected facial bones. In these cases, surgery may be required, necessitating more significant downtime and pain management.
A fractured jaw takes about six weeks to heal, and even longer to fully recover from. Your speech may be impaired for a while, but luckily most jaw fractures do result in full recoveries.
Your Dentist Can Help
After the acute trauma that caused your jaw fracture, you’ll need to see an emergency dentist or oral surgeon at a hospital. After that, your regular dentist can help make sure that your jaw is healing smoothly and progressively.
Give your dentist the full breakdown of what happened. Dentists often work hand-in-hand with doctors because of the many links between oral and overall health, so they need to be fully informed of your medical status. Knowing your history, your dentist can be mindful of any jaw abnormalities that could indicate your fractured jaw is not healing as it should.
A fractured jaw can be extremely painful and traumatizing. It usually requires jaw wiring or surgery, and over a month of recovery time. It’s essential to take all the time you need to heal so that you can have full comfort and function in your jaw in the long-term. We use our jaws for so much: smiling, eating, drinking, and talking so having a compromised jaw can really put a damper on our lives.
No one looks back on a broken jaw with fond memories, but the good news is that they do get through it. A broken jaw is rarely life-threatening. With the right assistance from doctors, your dentist and your family, you can get back to fighting form in good time. Just remember to be patient with yourself and give yourself time to heal. Your smile is always worth it.
If you’re looking for post-fracture dental care, call Dawson Dental at 1-877-542-2043, or contact us here.