The jaw plays a key role in breathing, speaking, and eating.
This means that keeping your jaws in tiptop shape is key to a healthy life and any form of jaw pain or damage can inhibit these critical functions.
Chronic jaw pain is associated with many conditions: teeth-grinding, TMJ, periodontal disease, and even sinus issues.
However, pain and damage are also commonly caused by a fractured jaw, and this can be a severe problem indeed.
And fractured jaws are not that uncommon – they result from all kinds of traumas and are in the ‘Top 10 List’ of broken bones in our bodies.
At Bondi Dental we not only take care of your teeth, but we can also take care of your jaw!
Causes of a broken jaw
The causes of a broken jaw are not surprising. The most common cause of a broken jaw is trauma to the face. This may be due to:
- Industrial accident
- Motor vehicle accident
- Recreational or sports injury
- Trips and falls
The jawbones run from your chin up to the ear on either sided of your face. In over half of broken jaws, the jaw fractures in two places (or more). The second fracture is normally at the end of the jawbone, close to the ear. The second fracture is caused by impact travelling along the jaw to the relatively weak section of the jawbone just below the ear.
Symptoms of a broken jaw
The most immediate signs of a fractured jawbone are localised pain, swelling, and bleeding.
There may also be bleeding from the mouth, which can impair breathing.
Other signs of a broken jaw include difficulty and pain in chewing food or speaking, limited ability to move the jaw, a “frozen’ jaw, numbness and bruising, and deformities or abnormalities in the appearance of your face.
Getting to medical care
While the most important thing is to get to medical attention immediately, some precautions/treatments can be taken during transportation or before help arrives.
Stabilise the jaw. Stabilise the jaw but DO NOT attempt to set or move the jaw yourself. Hold the jaw in place with your hands or use a bandage wrapped under the jaw and over the top of the head. Do not wrap the bandage too tightly as a broken jaw can cause the urge to throw up.
- Keeping the jaw stabilised helps prevent further injury until the emergency room can be reached.
- If a bandage is not available, try using a necktie, scarf, or handkerchief.
Apply cold compresses. Cold compresses can reduce swelling. Apply the cold compress for 15 – 20 minutes at a time. In the case of ice, wrap it in a towel to prevent frostbite.
- Place the compress lightly on the jaw. Excessive pressure can cause more pain and damage.
- If you don’t have an ice pack or compress, use a bag of frozen vegetables, like peas or corn.
Allow blood to leave the mouth. If there is bleeding in the mouth, be sure to let the blood leave the mouth. Swallowing blood can lead to choking.
Treatment of a broken jaw
The treatment of a broken jaw depends on the severity of the case. In some lucky cases, fractures can be treated with a soft diet and pain control. Some patients will have their teeth wired together to ensure that a jawbone returns to health. In some cases, the break will require a plate with screws to hold the plate in place to reapproximate the original bone.
Only a doctor can tell what treatment is needed.
On average it takes six to eight weeks to heal a simple broken jaw, but of course, healing time depends on the severity of the original break.
And if you break your jaw, be prepared to purchase a blender if you don’t already have one – you will most likely be on a soft-food diet.
If you have any concerns, questions, or need advice post-surgery, please contact Bondi Dental! We’re always glad to assist our patients in achieving maximal recovery.
Protecting yourself and loved ones from broken jaws
The best strategies are to drive safely, wear a seatbelt, be smart and don’t choose friends who like to fight. If you have children or elders in the house, fall-proof it. For athletes there is one more step that must be taken – get a custom-designed mouthguard to protect your teeth, soft tissues, and jaw.
The Bondi Dental Advantage
Bondi Dental is conveniently located in the Eastern Suburbs – Bondi Beach, Bondi in Sydney. Our exceptionally skilled dental professionals have more than 60 years of combined experiences in all fields of dentistry.
We provide high quality dental preventative, restorative, and cosmetic services for all patients in the region. Bondi Dental has free parking behind our building and offers a FREE Dental Consultation including a complete dental check-up.
We are open 7 days a week 8am – 8pm!
Call (02) 9365 7187 or visit us at 134 Curlewis St in Bondi Beach.