Broken Jaw

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When you understand HOW and WHY things happen, your actions for treatment and prevention are vastly improved.

If you just want to know WHAT ACTIONS TO TAKE, scroll down.

If you’re in a real hurry, click the Print This Page button and take this information with you.

Bones are like wood and they can break, even along planes like wood. ALWAYS get a broken jaw assessed by a properly trained professional.

Emergencies - Potential causes

  • Direct impact to the face (fights, car accidents, sports, etc.)

Emergencies - Symptoms

  • Pain in general and of varying degrees
  • Swelling (might include your entire face)
  • Bleeding
  • Stiffness
  • Breathing difficulty after impact
  • Pain when chewing or speaking
  • Inability to move jaws at all
  • Numbness might be an alternative sensation to pain
  • Change in the shape of the face, such as a lumpy appearance
  • Loosened teeth
  • Teeth don’t fit together as they did before impact

Emergencies - Relieve pain

  • DO NOT GIVE OVER THE COUNTER PAIN MEDS. Whether you call and ambulance or take your child to the Emergency Room yourself, doctors may need to assess all symptoms to see what damage might be done. OTC pain meds may mask symptoms. Also, doctors may need to prescribe narcotic pain meds that have OTC components in them such as acetaminophen. You want doctors to be able to give maximum pain meds as necessary without concern for overdose of acetaminophen or other OTC.
  • Ice packs on the face if swelling is external. Frozen vegetables like peas or corn make a good pliable ice pack. Wrap in a small thin towel (even a paper towel) before applying directly to skin in order to prevent freezer burn to the skin.
  • Keep head, neck, and jaw as motionless as possible during transport

Emergencies - What to do

Very important

Call 911 in case of emergencyBroken jaws may not be isolated injuries. If your child appears to have very serious injuries in addition to a broken jaw, such as skull or neck injuries or those that threaten their ability to breathe, QUIT READING AND CALL 911 NOW. Get an ambulance a.s.a.p.

  • DON’T PANIC. Your child’s state of mind depends on you being a cool, calm, and collected parent.
  • If no ambulance was required, still get your child to an Emergency Room or other type of trauma center. Broken jaws are usually beyond the ability of your child’s dentist to treat within the office. Specialized x-ray equipment will be needed that is often only available in these places. Also, there may be other injuries besides a broken jaw that should be assessed before treatment is started.
  • An alternative to an Emergency Room is an oral surgeon’s office. At least consider consulting one by phone due to their extra specialized training in dentistry as well as facial reconstruction.

Back to the List of Emergencies Page

NOTE: Any recommendations given can only be construed as general information. It is impossible for me to know your specific circumstances. I am not your family’s personal dentist. This material should NOT be used to diagnose the presence or absence of any particular ailment. This information is not intended to be a substitute for the services of a locally qualified dental health care professional. Any application of the material found on this website is at the reader’s discretion and is her or his sole responsibility. If there is any question, contact your dentist or other qualified dental health care professional.
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