When you hear of an oral emergency, the first thought that crosses your mind is lost fillings, fractured teeth, knocked-out teeth, and lost teeth. However, a collective and dangerous dental emergency is a broken jaw. Based on statistics, a fractured mandibular is the tenth most fractured bone of the body and often results from the direct force on the lower face or mandible. The trauma can be due to an accident or sports injury.
Your jawbone plays a critical role when it comes to breathing, speaking, or eating. With the pain associated with a fractured jaw and the role it plays in your life, you should seek immediate medical attention from your emergency dentistry if you suspect your jaw is fractured. At La Puente Advanced Dentistry, we have qualified and professional emergency dentists in La Puente, CA, ready to minimize the complications of your jaw and accelerate the recovery process.
What is a Broken Jaw?
A broken jaw, also known as a mandibular fracture, is the injury of the jawbone. A fractured jawbone is the second most common facial injury after the nose and cheekbone fracture. The jawbone is the most prominent bone on your lower face and attaches to the body and the skull through two branches known as the rami. The two divisions link the jaw and skull in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The ligaments ensure the bone remains intact while the muscles enable the opening and closing of the jaws.
When you sustain trauma on the TMJ during sports or assault, you are likely to end up with a broken or fractured jawbone. There is tremendous pain that results from a fractured jaw, making it necessary to visit an emergency dentistry service.
Common Causes of Broken Jaws
Any time force is applied on your TMJ or your face, you will likely end up with a fractured jaw. In addition, physical assaults are a prevalent cause of jaw fracture. When someone physically abuses you on the face, a stiff jab could end up hitting your jawbone hard enough to trigger a fracture or dislocation. Also, fighting during boxing could result in a dental emergency if a punch finds your face, causing the jawbone to break.
You could suffer a broken mandibular due to a motor vehicle crash. The impact from the accident can cause your face to bump on the steering or dashboard, leaving you with a broken jaw.
Another cause of fractured jaw is contact sports like wrestling, rugby, and American football. An opponent can tackle you to the group, and if the face contacts the ground first, you end up with a fractured mandibular. Balls hitting you on the face and any other physical contact during sports can cause a dental emergency if you interruption your jaw.
The last but not least common cause of a fractured jaw is slip and fall at home, work, or shopping mall. You may slip and fall while walking, hitting your face on the surface, bathtub, or counter, fracturing your jaw.
Other causes of broken mandibular include falling from a ladder while at home or on the job. Additionally, if you open your mouth too wide while taking a bite or yawning, the jawbone could move from its regular position resulting in a jawbone dislocation. Men are over three times more prone to these injuries than women, and those at the ages ranging from twenty to twenty-nine are most likely to experience a dental emergency due to a broken jaw. The primary conduct that results in fractured jaws is recklessness.
Broken Jawbone Symptoms
If you have sustained brutal trauma on the face and you are in severe pain, you may wonder if the jaw is broken. When it’s broken, you are likely to experience the following symptoms:
- Intense pain in the area around the jaws that makes it difficult to chew
- Tremendous pain in the ears if the fragmented jaw moves forward and tears the ear canal
- Visible swelling or bruising on the face
- Malocclusion, a condition that causes the teeth not to fit when closing the mouth
- Numb chin or lower lip due to nerve damage in the jaws
- Loose or missing teeth
- Bleeding in the mouth because of tissue damage caused by the fractured jaw
- Breathing problems
Facial swelling, bleeding, and extreme pain in the jaw areas are the instantaneous symptoms of a fractured jaw. The whole face might swell, causing jaw pain and stiffness. Further, bleeding from the mouth can cause breathing problems when the blood flows into the airways. If the injuries are severe, you might not move the jaw, informing you to seek emergency dentistry services.
Reasons for Seeking Emergency Dental Services after a Broken Jaw
A broken jaw is not a condition you want to leave to rebuild on itself. The condition is a severe dental emergency that requires immediate attention because even if it heals itself, healing in the wrong position can cause tooth misalignment and bite problems. Additionally, your overall wellbeing will be affected because, in the first place, you won’t have a balanced diet. After all, chewing will be a problem. Also, malocclusions might result in other dental problems that might affect your overall oral health.
Note that correcting a malocclusion when the jawbone has healed is almost impossible. Therefore, it’s wise to reach out to an emergency dentistry service right after observing signs of a fractured bone.
If the injuries are severe and you fail to go for an emergency medical evaluation, the fractured jawbone area might be infected by bacteria causing an infection. The infection causes a lot of pain, and sometimes if left to spread to the brain or the neck, it may be life-threatening.
Therefore, whenever you experience the symptoms mentioned above, you should start by icing the area where the jaw is broken to keep the pain and swelling down. Diagnosis and treatment will be more straightforward if the jaw area is not swollen. Afterward, you can seek treatment from a medical doctor or emergency dentistry service. Besides, ensure that you don’t drive yourself to the dentist. Have a family member or friend drive you to the hospital.
Recall, a fractured jaw can cause breathing complications if the blood blocks the airways. Therefore, when you experience this symptom, you should call 911 to address the breathing problem even before the jaw is diagnosed and treated.
Broken Jawbone Diagnosis
A fractured jaw is an emergency. So, once you reach the clinic, an orthopedic surgeon must ask about your history and perform a medical analysis. The examination seeks to establish the degree of the injuries. Besides, the dentist might recommend an x-ray to determine the injuries precisely.
A medical examination entails a physical checkup. Here, the dentist handling your case observes visible symptoms of a fractured jaw, like bruising and deformity. Besides, the doctor or dentist will check your TMJ for dislocations, injuries, or nerve damage. The dentist can even use the hand to your jaw via the skin.
After the physical examination, the dentist will conduct an external evaluation of the mouth. Once they complete this evaluation, they will check in the mouth to check the jaw movement. If they suspect the jaw is dislocated, they will ask you to nibble down to determine the alignment.
Similarly, the dentist will examine jaw stability. They will attach a tongue blade between the teeth to see if it can hold up.
Feeling the jaw on the skin and conducting a physical examination might help the dentist determine the kind of injury sustained. However, if the dentist needs a clearer picture of the jaw bone and the extent of the fracture, they will recommend an x-ray. If the images from the x-ray aren’t clear enough, the dentist will request a CT scan for more detailed images.
Note that the dentist won’t conduct the medical exam without establishing the degree of pain and administering pain relievers. Therefore, you shouldn’t be afraid of experiencing tremendous pain when you visit an emergency dentist to treat a broken jaw.
Broken Jawbone Treatment
After the medical examination is complete, the dentist will have found the area with the fracture and its extent, thus recommending the proper treatment. Fractures fall into two classes, including stable and unstable. Stable fractures are those in which the jaw hasn’t been severely fractured. Unstable fractures are those where the jawbone has sustained severe injuries.
For an unstable fracture, surgery will be necessary, meaning you might need an oral surgeon to conduct the procedure. In contrast, a stable fracture will only require wiring on the upper and lower jaw to keep the jaw closed and the bite in place. The dental surgeon has the option of using metal gadgets, wires, and elastic bands. Wiring the jaws reduces jaw movement, thus enabling proper healing.
As mentioned above, jaw wiring is the dentist's treatment procedure if you have a stable fracture. The surgeon will place bars at the lower and upper gums to grip the wires in place and ensure that the jaws aren’t moving. The wires will remain in place for between six to eight weeks until you are recovered.
The procedure has its risks, one of them being you can choke on food or vomit. For example, the vomit might choke you when you throw up because you can’t spit it out. So, it’s wise to keep a pair of scissors around during healing to minimize the risk of choking. If you feel like choking or vomiting, you can cut the wires. Ensure that after you have cut your wires, inform your dental surgeon about replacing the cut wires on time.
Another complication you might experience during this treatment is bleeding, usually from the wounds caused by incisions. Also, you may experience tingling in the mouth for some time due to the wiring.
Additionally, if the broken jaw has caused tissue damage or gingiva problems, you are at risk of developing an infection, explaining why the doctor or emergency dentist will prescribe antibiotics.
Healing is all about patience when it comes to a broken jaw. It can take a minimum of six weeks to heal, a duration you are prohibited from opening the mouth wide or even at all to enable quick healing.
Recovery and Outlook
If you have experienced a broken jaw, the outlook is good because the problem will be fixed with wiring and pain control. A wiring procedure will take up to eight weeks to heal, although the healing period primarily is dependent on the severity of the harm sustained and your overall well-being. Due to the incisions made during the procedure, you are bound to experience some discomfort during healing. However, you won’t experience any pain during the treatment because the dentist will administer anesthesia.
When the anesthesia wears off, you might experience swelling and pain, which is why your dentist should prescribe some medication to address the swelling and pain. After the fractured jaw has returned to its normal position and is stable again, you visit the dentist for removal.
Benefits of Jawbone Wiring
A broken jaw can cause many problems in your life. These issues are:
- Causes drooling
- Inability to close the mouth and lips adequately
- Extreme pain in the jaw area due to misalignment
- Wrong functioning of the jawbone and teeth
- It may distort your facial appearance
Wiring enables a broken jaw to heal, thus correcting the problems associated with a fractured jawbone.
Broken Jawbone Surgery
Also called orthognathic surgery, jaw surgery is recommended when you have an unstable fracture. When led by a knowledgeable professional, the procedure is safe and can achieve the desired outcome. However, it still has risks like:
- The wounds from the surgery might become infected
- Some teeth might need a root canal procedure
- You might suffer harm on the nerves
- You might experience bleeding
- The jawbone might not return to its original position
- You may loo part of the jawbone
Once the oral surgeon handling your case completes the medical exam, they will develop a surgery plan. They will use the results from the x-ray or CT to obtain a clearer picture of the jaw and generate a computer plan for the treatment. At La Puente Advanced Dentistry, we use Virtual Surgical Planning (VSP) to guide the jaw surgery procedure and ensure its success.
Oral surgery is an inpatient procedure that takes between two to four days to complete. Before the procedure, ensure you know the surgeon who will handle the case and the anesthesia they administer.
Note that you shouldn’t worry about sustaining scars on the chip because jaw surgery happens inside the mouth. However, in rare instances, the surgeon might make some incisions on the outside.
The dentist will first push the jaw to its initial position before the injury and use screws to hold them in place during the treatment. Over time, these screws integrate with the jawbone creating stability.
Sometimes a broken jaw might need additional bone during surgery. In these cases, the dentist removes a bone from your hip or rib and adds it to the jawbone.
Once the procedure is complete, you will follow post-treatment instructions to help with the recovery. You will be advised on the food to eat, health hygiene habits, stay off strenuous tasks and avoid your routines for a specific time frame.
Complete recovery from a jawbone surgery is twelve weeks, although the initial healing takes at least six weeks, after which you undergo a teeth alignment procedure using braces.
After jaw surgery, you are likely to experience swelling and discomfort when the anesthesia wears off. The dentist will prescribe medication to address the pain. On the other hand, they can place the icing on the treated jaw to reduce or prevent swelling. Ensure the ice is in a plastic bag or pack to avoid direct contact with the treated area. You should place and remove the ice pack in intervals of fifteen to twenty minutes.
Similarly, you must follow a soft diet and blended food during recovery and keep off crunchy food. A soft diet includes pudding, canned fruit, meat, soup, and well-cooked pasta or rice. If, after the surgery, the dentist wired the jaws together, you will be forced to feed on minerals and cream using straws or syringes. Chewing is discouraged because it disturbs the wounds, and this delays healing.
Another way of managing your fractured jaw post-treatment is through observing high oral hygiene. After the surgery, you should clean your mouth at least four times daily, mainly after meals. You prevent the food particles from housing bacteria which results in an infection on the incision wounds. Again, make sure your dentist shows you how to brush or clean the teeth to prevent further injuries.
Furthermore, if you are an active person and want to be back on the field as soon as possible, you must be patient until the oral surgeon gives a green light. Until then, you should stay away from sports because of the increased risk of sustaining bruising, bleeding, or a fractured jawbone.
Also, when it comes to sleep, lay on your back to avoid putting pressure on the treated jaw.
Find an Experienced La Puente Emergency Dentist Near Me
If you suspect you have a broken jaw after a brutal force on the face, you will want to see an emergency dentistry service as soon as possible. Seeing an expert on time before swelling and pain is advisable as it eases treatment. La Puente Advanced Dentistry is ready to offer quality and professional treatment if you suffer a fractured jaw in La Puente. Contact us today at 626-626-7075 for a medical examination and treatment.