Broken Jaw Treatment

Written by karen hellesvig-gaskell
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A broken jaw requires immediate medical attention. The National Institute of Health says a broken or fractured jaw is usually due to some type of injury to the face.This includes sports and recreational injuries, motor vehicle and industrial accidents and assault.The specific treatment for a fractured jaw will vary depending on the severity of the break.

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Symptoms

The symptoms of a fractured (broken) jaw include facial bruising, swelling, stiffness and tenderness or pain in the jaw that intensifies during chewing or biting.

There may be bleeding from the mouth, loose or damaged teeth and a lump or unusual appearance to the jaw or cheek. A person who has broken their jaw may find it hard to open their mouth widely.

Immediate Self-Treatment

A broken jaw requires medical attention right away due the possibility of considerable bleeding and breathing difficulties. The American Dental Association recommends the immediate application of a cold compress to manage swelling.

Gently hold the jaw in place while on the way to the emergency room. A bandage may be wrapped around the top of the head and under the jaw, but it should be adjusted for easy removal since vomiting may occur.

Professional Treatment

Your doctor will confirm that your jaw is broken by taking either standard X-rays of your jaw or by using a dental panoramic X-ray (Panorex).

A broken or fractured jaw can be remedied by either realigning the fractured pieces of bone with wires or by using thin screws and metal plates.

If bone fragments have punctured the skin or if there are loose or missing teeth your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic such as penicillin or clindamycin (Cleocin), to reduce the chance of infection.

Treating Severe Fractures

When a jaw has suffered moderate or severe damage, surgery is often required. In order to encourage firmness, the jaw may be wired to the teeth for a period of 6 to 8 weeks.

The teeth are held together with small rubber bands. Some of the bands are taken out after a few weeks to alleviate joint stiffness and allow motion.

Blunt scissors can be used to cut the rubber bands in case of choking or vomiting occurs. Contact your doctor so these can be replaced.

During this period your diet will limited to liquids and very soft foods.

Possible Complications

In addition to the risk of infection, some other complications of a broken jaw may include breathing blood or food into the lungs, airway blockage (breathing tubes to the lungs), pain in the jaw joint (TMJ) and difficulties associated with aligning the teeth. Patients may temporarily find it challenging to eat and drink.

Prognosis

When a broken jaw receives immediate professional care it usually heals within a couple of months. Long-term complications such as facial deformity, restricted movement and chronic pain are extremely rare and occur only when the fracture isn't treated or fails to heal properly.

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