Given all the hazards we face in life, breaking your jaw may seem a very unlikely event. However, here is a list of all the ways you can suffer this serious fracture. Have you ever …
- Fallen off a bike?
- Gotten hit with the ball or other equipment playing rugby, soccer, football, basketball, baseball, hockey, lacrosse or even golf?
- Fallen while cheerleading, dancing or doing gymnastics?
- Tumbled off a boat, Jet Ski or the dock at the lake?
- Suffered a horseback riding incident?
- Crashed your car, truck or motorcycle?
- Gotten into a fist fight – or even played rough with the kids at home?
Any and all of these seemingly fun activities can lead to a broken jaw, says Dr. Anthony Farole, an experienced maxillofacial surgeon who’s cared for thousands of patients who have suffered facial trauma in the Philadelphia area.
“Almost all the things we enjoy doing expose us to some level of risk,” Dr. Farole points out. “You could fall off a stool while you’re getting supplies from a high shelf or even just slip on the kitchen floor, and boom! You may need facial surgery to deal with broken or chipped bones and yes, possibly, a broken jaw.”
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t live life to the fullest, Dr. Farole emphasizes. Naturally, you should take all wise precautions – for example, using protective sports’ equipment, driving defensively and taking extra care when climbing ladders or stools.
But should you suffer facial trauma and need treatment for a broken jaw, here are crucial things to know.
Treatment for a dislocated jaw
If you injure your jaw, it will most likely be treated as an emergency. While waiting for medical care, you should support your lower jaw to help stabilize it and keep your airway open.
If your jaw is dislocated, Dr. Farole will gently move it back into the correct position. Sometimes this can be done manually. You’ll receive local anesthetics and muscle relaxants to minimize the pain and to help your jaw muscles loosen up enough to allow for treatment. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to set the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) back into the normal position.
What if my jaw is broken?
Treatment for a jaw fracture might also require surgery, depending on the extent of the injury. Clean breaks may heal on their own while your jaw is immobilized. Multiple fractures of the jawbone or displaced breaks in the part of the bone that’s pushed off to one side may require surgical repair.
Will my jaw need to be wired shut?
Broken and dislocated jaws are usually bandaged or wired shut during recovery.
Dr. Farole may treat your dislocation and minor fracture simply by wrapping a bandage around your head and under your chin to keep you from opening your jaw wide. Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium can dull the pain and reduce swelling.
Recovery from a jaw fracture or dislocation requires patience. You won’t be able to open your jaw very wide or at all for at least 6 weeks during treatment. Dr. Farole will likely prescribe pain relievers and antibiotics to prevent infection. You’ll also be on a liquid diet to provide you with nutrition during this time while you’re unable to chew solid food.
While we detest thinking of you suffering a broken jaw, we are always here to provide expert emergency care for any facial trauma – and help you through the steps needed to heal fully. If you or a loved one suffer any form of trauma and need emergency assistance, Dr. Farole and his team in Bala Cynwyd are ready to provide you with expert care.