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Broken Jaw
Whittier, CA

Image of a man holding his broken jaw. Learn about diagnosis and treatment at Dr. Choyee, Oral Surgeon in Whittier, CA.Of all the areas of the face which sustain an injury, the jaw is one of the most frequent (just behind broken noses). Statistically, it’s the 10th most commonly fractured bone in the human body, typically resulting from direct trauma to the jawbone or mandible (the largest and primary bone in your lower face, extending from your chin to behind your ear). A broken, fractured, or dislocated mandible involves one or both of the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) that connect the lower jawbone to your skull being damaged to the point of unhinging from the jaw.

While extremely rare, jaw injuries caused by prior dental trauma or accidents do occasionally happen. At Simon K. Choyee, DDS, Inc., we take such cases very seriously and work hard to determine the best approach for treatment and recovery. If you or a loved one are suffering from recurring jaw pain or discomfort and believe it may be from an injury of some kind, don’t wait to see if it gets worse before seeking help. Please call us today to schedule an appointment at (562) 947-4781.

Causes of Broken Jaws

Common types of injuries that can result in a broken, fractured or dislocated jaw include:

•  Physical assault (trauma) to the face.
•  Sports-related injury.
•  Vehicular accident.
•  Accidental fall in one’s home.
•  Workplace injury.
•  Very rarely, a lower jaw fracture can follow a severe tooth extraction complication.

The majority of facial trauma occurs in men between the ages of 20-30 (Roughly 42 % affect only one side of the jaw), making this group about three times more likely to experience such injuries than women.

Symptoms of a Broken Jaw

•  Most commonly, general pain or discomfort in the jaw.
•  Swelling, specifically in the face.
•  Numbness (Ex- Your chin or lower lip may be numb due to a damaged nerve running through the mandible) or bruising in the face.
•  Feeling of displacement in your gums.
•  Bleeding, including from the mouth or gums.
•  Difficulty breathing.
•  Feeling that your teeth do not fit together properly (malocclusion).
•  Stiffness in your jaw.
•  Difficulty or discomfort when speaking, chewing, or opening your mouth (also malocclusion).
•  Drooling.
•  Difficulty or inability to close your mouth.
•  Dental discomfort such as loosened teeth or numbness in your gums.

Diagnosing a Broken Jaw

Diagnosis methods vary, depending on the injury (break, crack, fracture, dislocation). Upon reviewing your medical history, a physical exam will be carried out to ascertain the state of the affected area:

•  A general external inspection of your face will check for any deformities, bruising or swelling before feeling the jawbone through the skin.
•  The inside of your mouth is checked. You will be asked to bite down if you can, and your teeth’s alignment or lack-there-of will be assessed.
•  Your jawbone’s stability is tested. A tongue depressor (flat wooden stick) will be placed between the upper and lower teeth to evaluate whether you can hold the depressor in place.
•  Most commonly, a panoramic mandibular X-ray (an X-ray which covers the entire jawbone) will be the screening film used. If the initial X-rays turn up negative but a broken, fractured or dislocated jaw is suspected, further testing may be necessary to be certain.

Broken Jaw Treatments

While simple dislocations are easier to correct, a more complex fracture requires a specialist such as an oral surgeon, facial plastic & reconstructive surgeon, or head & neck surgeon. If somebody suspects he/she may have a broken jaw, an appointment should be made for appropriate testing and (if needed) surgery as soon as possible.

Anti-inflammatories (ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin) can reduce pain and swelling. Severe jaw injuries may be treated through wiring a patient’s jaw shut with elastic bands holding your bite in place, or by repairing the jaw with plates and screws. What are important above all else while recovering from a jaw injury are patience and following at-home care instructions.

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