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What is a fractured jaw?

A fracture refers to breaking or cracking of a bone. When the jawbone breaks, it is called fractured jaw. Jaw fractures are the third most common type of facial fractures after nose and cheekbone.

The jawbone is medically termed as the mandible. Condyles present at the end of this bone form a part of the temporomandibular joint in front of the ear. Fractured jaw causes dislocation of the jaw at the temporomandibular joint.

What are its main signs and symptoms?

Symptoms of a fractured jaw are listed below:

  • Pain in the face or jaw which worsens on movements
  • Difficulty in chewing food
  • Difficulty in opening or closing the mouth
  • Jaw deviating to one side when opening the mouth
  • Damaged teeth
  • Numbness of the lower lip

What are the main causes?

Fracture of the jaw can occur in many ways depending upon the type of impact. It can be caused by:

  • An accidental fall on the chin, as seen in children
  • Fall from motorcycle or bicycle
  • A punch to the jaw
  • Fall during sports
  • Industrial accident

How is it diagnosed and treated?

The doctor conducts a thorough physical examination by inspecting the movements of the jaw and looking for any facial bruising, deformity, swelling or redness. After external examination, the doctor checks inside the mouth for dislodged, misaligned or fractured teeth. Panoramic X-rays are done to confirm the location and extent of the fracture line.

Medications are used to relieve pain, and instructions are given to take a soft diet. Stable fractures mostly need wiring of the upper and lower teeth together. These wires are left in place for about 6 to 8 weeks. Unstable fractures need an open reduction technique to stabilise the broken sections with the help of titanium plates and screws. It is strongly advised to avoid correcting the position of the jaw on your own. Anti-inflammatory medicines are given to take care of the post-surgical pain and swelling.

  1. Medicines for Fractured Jaw

References

  1. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Broken or dislocated jaw
  2. University Hospital Southampton. Repair of fractured jaw. NHS Foundation Trust. [internet].
  3. Hull University Teaching Hospitals. Fracture of the Lower Jaw. NHS Foundation Trust. [internet].
  4. British Association of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons. Fractures of the Lower Jaw. Royal College of Surgeons of England. [internet].
  5. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Jaw Injuries and Disorders
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