When you or your loved one has a broken jaw, it can be a traumatic experience, and it is crucial to seek a dentist’s help. Due to the seriousness of the injury, seeking medical assistance will ensure you receive pain relief. If you are in Downey, CA, and suffer a broken jaw, you can seek the services of The Downey Dentist. If we find that your jaw is broken, we will treat you immediately, and this will go a long way in ensuring that you gain full use of your jaw within no time.
How Does a Broken Jaw Occur?
A broken jaw occurs when your jaw suffers a fracture due to direct force applied to the jawbone. A fractured jaw will make it difficult to eat and breathe. To ensure that you avoid complications that accompany it, it is essential to seek immediate medical assistance.
Common Indications of Broken Jaw Injury
It is effortless to recognize if you have a broken jaw since a fractured jaw’s signs and symptoms develop immediately after you suffer any trauma to your jawbone. The following is a list of some of the sign you should look for if you have a broken jaw:
- Excruciating jaw pain.
- When you are unable to open your jaw completely.
- Your teeth may be misaligned.
- When you experience stiffness in your jaw.
- When you have a problem eating, chewing, or speaking.
- When you notice swelling on your jaw.
- Numbness on your lips or chin brought by nerve damage.
- Severe bleeding on your mouth or when you experience bruising under your tongue.
- When you are unable to close your mouth, or you start drooling.
You should note that you will experience swelling, pain, and bleeding immediately after an impact resulting in a broken jaw. You can have your face swelling, leading to a stiff jaw, and a lot of pain usually accompanies it. When your mouth is bleeding, you may experience difficulty breathing due to blood flow, which may sometimes lead to blocked airways. You will also experience some tenderness when speaking or chewing. If you suffer a fracture, you may find it difficult to rotate your jaw and ultimately have minimum jaw movements.
You will also experience gum bruising and facial numbness when your jaw has been broken or fractured. Breaking your jawbone will affect your overall outlook, whereby you may have your facial shape distorted. If the impact to your jawbone is very severe, you may end up with a lost or loose tooth.
Causes of Broken Jaws
Broken jaws result from injuries that cause dislocations and fractures to your jawbone, and these injuries are due to:
- Sports injuries.
- Physical facial trauma.
- Fall at home or workplace.
- Motor vehicle accidents.
- Direct facial hit.
What Are The Implications of a Broken Jaw?
You should seek immediate medical assistance if you suffer a broken jaw. A broken jaw that has not been treated may lead to misaligned teeth, will make it difficult to chew and have an overall effect on your teeth’ straightness and have a long-lasting health effect on your teeth. It is imperative to have a dentist check on your jaw if you suspect it to have a fracture or break.
What to do When you Suspect your Jaw is Broken
When you suffer head trauma and realize that your teeth are not fitting correctly in your mouth, or if you experience some swelling in your mouth, you should seek immediate medical attention.
It is essential to have your jaw evaluated at the hospital’s emergency department to determine if it is broken. It is, therefore, crucial to visit a hospital where they offer dental services. One of the complications of a broken jaw is difficulty breathing and if this happens, have 911 on the scene to address the issue.
You should apply icing to your jaw, which will help control the swelling as you wait for medical attention. If you are drooling, have a paper cup to spit into or collect the saliva as you wait for the dentists to attend to you.
Broken Jaw Exams
When you seek medical assistance, the dentist will take down your history, examine you physically and then run some x-ray tests to diagnose if your jaw is broken. You will not be required to undergo a blood test unless you have underlying health issues that might be affected by the trauma or played a crucial role in your trauma. A blood test will be run when you are to be taken to the operating room to have your fracture treated.
A dentist will perform the following once you are at the hospital:
- They will perform a physical examination of your face where the dentist checks for swelling, bruising, and deformity. The dentist carries this test out by feeling your jaw through the skin.
- They will check the movement of your jaw, and once they are through with your external examination, they will start an internal investigation. The dentist will ask you to bite down and then check for proper teeth alignment.
- The next step is for the dentist to check on the stability of your jawbone. The dentist will determine this by placing a flat wooden stick or a tongue depressor between your upper and lower teeth. If you can hold the tongue depressor in place, then the dentist will be in a position to evaluate your jaw stability. This test is known as the straight blade test.
- You will then undergo an x-ray that will cover the entire jawbone to determine any fractures. Sometimes a dentist may require you to undertake a CT scan if they suspect a fracture and the x-ray doesn’t show it.
If the test proves that you face a minor fractured jaw, a dentist or an oral specialist can treat it. When the test demonstrates that you have a broken jaw, it will require specialized care from specialists like oral surgeons, neck surgeons, reconstructive and plastic surgeons to work on your fracture.
Jaw Injuries Treatment
When you receive a jaw injury, the hospital will treat it as an emergency case. Sometimes it might take time before you receive medical assistance. You must stabilize your lower jawbone by supporting, and this will also help in clearing your airway and keeping them open. An open airway will help with your breathing.
Treatment of a Broken Jaw
When you suffer a broken jaw, the treatment will depend on the degree of your injury. If you suffer a clean break, your jaw might heal independently, provided that it is immobilized. You may end up undergoing surgery to repair the damage that multiple fractures cause.
Jaw Wiring Complications
During recovery, your broken jaw will be wired to ensure it stays in position. Sometimes, your dentist will wrap a bandage under your chin or around your head to treat minor fractures. Having a bandage wrapped around your chin or head will ensure that you do not completely open your jaw. Your dentist will also prescribe pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs to numb the pain and ultimately minimize the swelling.
If the break is severe, the wiring may be incorporated to promote quick recovery and healing. Wiring will ensure that your bite is in place and your jaw remains closed. You may experience choking and vomiting during recovery with wiring, and you are advised to always have a pair of scissors with you. You will use a pair of scissors to cut or open the binding if you experience vomiting and choking. Ensure that you let your dentist know when you open or cut your wires so that you can have them replaced within the shortest time possible.
Patience is a crucial factor when it comes to the recovery of a broken jaw. Treatment of a fractured jaw takes a minimum period of six weeks, and during this time, you will not be in a position to open and close your jaw as you wish. Though your dentist will prescribe antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications to make your life bearable, you will need to take a liquid diet. This liquid diet will ensure that you are well-nourished to facilitate your recovery during this period when you cannot use your jaw to chew food.
Recommended Diets for a minor fracture Jaw Injury
You will realize that you will have to take a liquid or start a soft diet during your recovery from a fractured jaw. You need to avoid foods that require you to chew if you want your minor fracture to heal. Avoid a diet that includes crunchy foods, meat, or food that will strain your jaw as you chew and cause you pain as well. Incorporate a soft diet that will consist of the following, which will not push your jaw as you chew:
- Well cooked rice
- Minced meat
- Well-cooked pasta
- Canned meat
- Canned fruit
Recommended Diets for a Broken Jaw Injury
A broken jaw will require wiring for healing to take place, which calls for a strict diet. This diet is brought by the fact that you will not be in a position to open or close your mouth as you wish. You will need to attain your nutritional value from a liquid diet while recovering to reach your daily dietary value intake, even if you have a broken jaw injury.
This will require you to take liquid food to obtain the necessary nutrients frequently. You can obtain your daily vitamin and other minerals that your body needs in a liquid form. You can add milk intake to your diet to ensure your body receives the necessary calories essential to your recovery. Take oatmeal, fruits, well-cooked soft meat, and other soft grains to remain healthy.
When you are recovering from a broken jaw injury, you will need to take your meals more frequently. For instance, if you usually take three meals in a day, you will need to increase eating to six meals a day. This will cover for the discomfort that you will experience while eating. Eating a small quantity of food will help. A smaller portion of liquid food will ensure that you avoid the monotony of the same food flavor. It is easier to take six different flavors of smoothies as compared to three heavy ones.
Ensure you take your juice and milk more frequently to increase your calorie count. Avoid taking drinks with a low-calorie count like coffee, diet soda, water, and tea. When you increase your calories, you will ensure that your body can sustain its weight while recovering and are under a strict diet.
You will find your teeth to be sensitive after a jaw injury and therefore take lukewarm foods to avoid the sensitivity brought by extreme temperature. You can take baby foods to obtain the necessary vitamin intake while recovering from a broken jaw injury. If your smoothie or gravy is too heavy for a straw, consider using milk or water to thin it.
After Care for a Broken jaw
After treating a broken jaw injury, you will need to consult with your dentist or oral surgeon if you have any questions concerning your treatment regime. After treatment of your jaw injury, your outlook will be of great importance. The healing process takes up to eight weeks for minor non-surgical fractures. If you undergo any surgical procedures after your jaw injury, your healing may take several months to be complete.
Afterward, your jaw will heal though there are some instances where you may incur some pain at your jaw, a condition known as a TMJ disorder. To protect yourself from this excruciating pain, try to hold your lower jaw or chin when yawning or sneezing.
After you have left the surgery, you should take note of the following:
- Try to sleep with your head laid on several pillows, decreasing your facial swelling while easing your breathing.
- Avoid any heavy lifting while your jaw is wired together, and this will reduce any strain on your jaw.
- Try to avoid working your jaw against your wires, as this may loosen them, which will delay your healing.
- Avoid all alcoholic drinks while your jaw is healing.
- Apply a saline nasal spray to clear your nose, which will ease your breathing as your jaw heals.
- Avoid any water activities like swimming, which may make your breathing difficult as your jaw heals.
Take Proper Care for Your Mouth and Teeth
When you keep proper and meticulous care of your mouth and teeth, you will prevent tooth decay and any other infection that may arise due to the build-up between your teeth and the wire. Oral hygiene is crucial when it comes to healing from a broken jaw injury. Brush your teeth after meals and before heading off to bed, and use the rotating motion while brushing.
Swelling on your Jaw
For the first 48hrs after your surgery, you will be issued with ice packs to apply on your jaw, which reduces swelling. Afterward, you will need to use hot packs like a hot water bottle, reducing swelling and bruising on your jaw. Swelling usually takes two weeks to be completely disappearing. It is advisable to apply heat packs 3-4 times a day for about 45 minutes; you should follow this procedure for two weeks after your discharge from the hospital.
How to Take Care of a Sore Throat
You may experience a sore throat and nasal decongestion following jaw surgery. Though this is a normal reaction due to local anesthesia applications, it should go away within days. Take note to drink lots of warm liquids to reduce throat soreness, but consult with your dentist if it continues.
Prolonged bleeding after your discharge from the hospital is not normal. This bleeding may be from incisions obtained during surgery or nose bleeding, and if you experience any bleeding, consults your dentist immediately.
After your discharge from the hospital, sometimes you may experience nausea and vomiting. The following steps may ease your discomfort greatly:
- Once you feel the urge to vomit, bend forward and roll on your side,
- Do not cut your elastics when you feel the vomiting urge
- Ensure your mouth is open so that the vomit can come out
- If the vomiting persists, use anti-nausea medicine and also consult with your dentist.
Complication Symptoms to Look Out For
If you experience the following signs and symptoms after your surgery, contact your dentist immediately:
- Increased swelling.
- Foul smell from your mouth.
- You are bleeding from your mouth.
- Increasing pain.
Find Emergency Dentist Near Me
When you suspect that you are suffering from a broken jaw, you must immediately seek medical attention. At The Downy Dentist, you will find an experienced dentist who will provide compassionate, comprehensive, and affordable dental care. You do not have to worry about receiving affordable dental care as we offer our first-time patients a free dental exam together with a free first digital x-ray. Contact us at 562-746-0350 and set up your consultation with our care providers.