The jaw fracture occurs in more than half of all fractures affecting the skull. For this reason, the jaw fracture is considered one of the most common head fractures.
What is a broken jaw?
A broken jaw initially manifests itself as jaw pain. The pain occurs mainly when chewing and speaking and is often described by those affected as stabbing or oppressive. See AbbreviationFinder for abbreviations related to Broken Jaw.
The jaw fracture can present itself in two different dimensions and can be localized on both the upper and the lower jaw. If there is a broken jaw, the bone has been destroyed, so that the broken jaw is one of the fractures. Depending on where the jaw fracture is located, it is an upper or lower jaw fracture.
Both diagnoses require appropriate treatment to restore normal function to the jaw and the teeth embedded in it. In individual cases, however, the jaw fracture is so extensive and complex that it takes an extremely long time before its physiology is completely restored and the jaw can bear weight.
The causes of a broken jaw are usually based on the sudden impact of mechanical forces, which lead to a fracture of the bones.
In the case of a jaw fracture in the upper jaw, it is mostly so-called blunt force impacts. These usually hit the rather thin bones with a high energetic potential. A fracture of the upper jaw is a consequence of traffic accidents and after intense physical assaults.
In addition, a jaw fracture can also occur in the lower jaw due to the penetration of rifle bullets or as a result of explosive projectiles and after falling on the head. Accidents during sporting activities and the effects of force from animals (hooves on kicking horses) also quite often cause a jaw fracture.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
A broken jaw initially manifests itself as jaw pain. The pain occurs mainly when chewing and speaking and is often described by those affected as stabbing or oppressive. This is associated with restricted mobility of the jaw. A misaligned jaw can lead to misaligned teeth, in which the teeth no longer fit together properly.
Teeth are often loose or even fall out. Persistent numbness may occur in the lower lip area. Bleeding into the floor of the mouth is also possible. In the case of severe injuries, bleeding occurs in addition to the jaw fracture. The lips, chin and nose are usually affected. Injuries to the tongue and cheek pouches are also conceivable.
The visible misalignment of the jaw is the most obvious external feature. In addition, a jaw fracture can be recognized by any deformities and bleeding. A misaligned tooth indicates a previous fracture of the jaw. The symptoms of a broken jaw subside after a few days to weeks. If surgical treatment is carried out early, any misalignment of the jaw can also be corrected without long-term consequences to be expected. With appropriate treatment, the pain subsides after just a few hours.
Diagnosis & History
When making a diagnosis with the aim of recognizing a jaw fracture both in terms of its extent and its location, the specialists use various methods. The patient’s statement serves as the primary point of reference. However, if this person cannot be addressed, a visual assessment of the jaw is carried out first.
In the case of a broken jaw, it is difficult to make a clear diagnosis. The final results confirming a fractured jaw are largely based on the involvement of technical equipment, which includes X-ray devices. In addition to examining the mobility of a broken jaw and triggering pain, the doctors can also perform a computer tomography if the findings are unclear.
Depending on where the jaw fracture is located, either abnormal movements occur or noticeable facial swelling can be seen. When it comes to diagnosis and course, a fractured jaw is always a complex of several anomalies, in which the eye sockets must also be inspected.
A broken jaw is a medical condition that should be treated by a doctor. Otherwise there is a risk of serious consequential damage from which those affected can no longer fully recover. Accordingly, such a jaw fracture is also associated with various complications that should always be treated by an appropriate doctor.
If a broken jaw is left untreated, the fracture will not heal on its own. Of course, there is also extremely severe pain, which can also only be eliminated by surgery. If you don’t have an operation at this point, you have to expect considerable complications. The fracture may even have an abscess, so there is a risk of blood poisoning.
Of course, this complication must also be treated by a doctor, otherwise there is an acute danger to life. Existing bacteria and viruses can also spread throughout the body through such an abscess, leading to an infection. If you leave such an infection untreated, you are of course also taking a big risk. Headaches, fever and sore throat can occur, so that treatment by a doctor is also necessary at this point.
When should you go to the doctor?
If you experience severe pain in your mouth after a fall, accident or the effects of violence, you need to see a doctor. If the jaw can no longer be moved as usual or if irregularities occur during the chewing process, a doctor is needed. Optical changes in the shape of the face, discoloration of the skin in the area of the chin or deformations on the upper neck indicate irregularities that need to be examined and treated. Restricted vocalization, swallowing difficulties and problems opening the mouth are signs of a health problem.
A doctor’s visit is necessary so that medical care can be initiated immediately. If the intake of food and drink is refused, the person concerned needs a doctor. If the symptoms persist for several hours or if the symptoms increase, a doctor should be consulted. Anxiety, sweating, tremors, and discomfort with an existing denture are conditions that should be controlled. If blood is lost or vomited, a doctor must be consulted.
If the circuit breaks down, an emergency service must be alerted. At the same time, first aid measures must be taken by those present. If children show sudden behavioral changes, such as screaming and crying unabated over a long period of time, they should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible.
Treatment & Therapy
As part of the possible therapy for a fractured jaw, there is usually an initial treatment of the fracture. Further treatments follow later after intensive differential diagnostics. In the case of a jaw fracture, these are based on a surgical intervention, repositioning and fixation.
During the initial treatment, which usually takes place as accident care, improved breathing is made possible. In some cases, obstruction of the airway in a fractured jaw may require intubation. A temporary splint of the upper or lower jaw as well as emergency pain treatment follow in the event of a jaw fracture.
Surgical intervention for a broken jaw involves an aesthetic restoration. In this context, it may be the case that, in the event of a jaw fracture, individual splintered bone parts have to be connected to one another and fixed to the skull bone. During intubation, ventilation is primarily through the nose.
If the jaw fracture is extremely extensive, ventilation can be carried out using a tube through the opened floor of the mouth. In order to obtain an exact reconstruction of the healthy jaw in the event of a jaw fracture, the bone parts are placed in their natural anatomical locations as part of a repositioning. The treatment of a fractured jaw is accompanied by long-term immobilization and possible compression on the fracture site.
Painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs are intended to promote better healing. The painkillers also help to relieve the persistent, severe headaches.
Outlook & Forecast
A broken jaw can normally be easily healed if medical care is sought immediately after the triggering event. Otherwise, the person affected is at risk of permanent damage and a severe impairment of their quality of life. The fracture will not heal on its own without medical help. There is severe pain and the risk of complications is significantly increased.
The chewing process is significantly impaired and speaking is made significantly more difficult. Viruses and bacteria can lodge and spread in the mouth and throat area. In severe cases, the affected person is at risk of shortness of breath or blood poisoning. Sepsis means an immediate threat to life. Disorders of the respiratory tract can also lead to a fatal course of the disease.
With a treatment, there is an extensive check of the damage suffered. In difficult cases, an operation is carried out immediately to save the life of the person concerned. The jaw is immobilized so that the best possible healing success can take place. Under optimal conditions, the patient is given a splint after a few weeks or months, which ensures the stability of the jaw during the further course of the recovery process. Some people also have additional surgical procedures for aesthetic reasons. Split bone parts must be joined together and permanently fixed to the skull bone.
In order to prevent a jaw fracture, it is particularly important to prevent mechanical impacts on this area. In addition, it is unavoidable to wear a chin guard during accident prevention in order to cushion or absorb impacts or impacts.
One of the aims of aftercare is to prevent the recurrence of a disease through scheduled follow-up examinations. However, this objective cannot be implemented for a jaw fracture. The typical complaints are caused by external forces such as falls or blows. They happen randomly and selectively.
A doctor cannot detect a future fall or hit to the jaw in the early stages as it can with a tumor. As a result, follow-up care after recovery is of no importance. Medical care ensures that no complications arise in the healing process. However, she cannot prevent another fracture of the jaw.
If the jaw breaks again, the doctor tries to support the patient in their everyday life, just as they did during the previous treatment. The patient has to take it easy for six weeks. Food intake is only possible in liquid form. Since oral hygiene cannot be carried out in everyday life, the person concerned must avoid sugary foods.
The progress of healing is checked in regular examinations. Imaging methods such as an X-ray or CT are suitable for this. The jaw can then be fully loaded again. There is no reason for further medical examinations.
You can do that yourself
If a jaw fracture is suspected, the first thing to do is cool and rest. Until the emergency doctor arrives, the jaw must be treated with a cold pack and immobilized. If it is an open fracture, it must be covered immediately with germ-free wound dressings. In the event of a shock, the person concerned should be placed in a stable lateral position – then calm down and repeatedly check consciousness and breathing. The paramedic must be informed immediately of the circumstances surrounding the fractured jaw.
Bed rest is recommended after the initial treatment. The jaw must be rested for a few weeks. In order to lose as little weight as possible during this time, a change in diet is necessary. In the beginning, only liquid food can be consumed – soups and teas, pureed dishes and liquid food from the pharmacy sufficiently cover the calorie requirement. At the same time, oral hygiene must also be adapted. Special hygiene rinses from the drugstore are just as useful as natural home remedies (e.g. tea tree oil or aloe vera) and curved toothbrushes.
Finally, the jaw muscles should be strengthened through regular exercise. In the case of larger fractures in particular, it is important to practice chewing daily so that no symptoms arise after recovery.