Trauma to the face and mouth can result in jaw injuries that require orthodontic treatment. Jaw injuries are a dental and medical emergency needing urgent care to assess the severity of the injury and treatment required.
When the jaw is injured the oral tissues, gums and teeth can be damaged to varying degrees. Emergency treatment is usually required to evaluate the injured person’s vitals and to ensure they are in a stable condition. If a head injury or concussion is present this may take priority over dental emergency treatment.
A jaw injury or broken jaw usually requires hospital treatment within an hour or sooner of the injury. A medical professional attending the injured person may consult an oral surgeon for jaw and dentistry treatment.
Jaw injuries need thorough assessment by a dental professional, such as an orthodontist or oral surgeon. Once severity of the injury is diagnosed treatment recommendations are provided to restore jaw and dental health. Jaw injuries can sometimes include tooth avulsion or tooth fractures and breaks. The type of treatment recommended depends on the oral damage.
Symptoms of Jaw Injury
A broken jaw is painful but individuals may initially be disorientated due to the injury and not be aware of it. Some incur head injury with concussion and do not realise their jaw is broken or the extent and location of injury.
When a jaw injury is sustained, whether through sports, accident or assault, symptoms require immediate emergency care and monitoring. Having an early diagnosis enables the injured person to receive the medical and dental care they need to restore jaw function.
However, the typical symptoms of jaw fractures include:
Strained breathing or constricted airways
Presence of blood in the lungs
Inability to bite or chew properly
Recovering from Jaw Injury
The treatment and recovery process for jaw injury or breakage depends on the extent of the damage, diagnosis and treatment recommendations. In addition, an individual’s health condition and natural rate of healing contribute to shorter or longer recovery times.
Where the jaw is wired with an orthodontic device recovery may be between six and eight weeks. Orthodontic supports vary depending on progress during the recovery period. Individuals need to attend follow-up orthodontic appointments to monitor healing progress so that orthodontic treatment may be adjusted as needed.
During recovery the jaw joint may be sore and the person experience pain as their jaw realigns and heals. The dentist can prescribe painkillers for relief and recommend steps to take to reduce painful symptoms.
Accessing care for Jaw Injuries or Disorders
If you have concerns about your jaw function, teeth alignment or bite get in touch with our clinic by phone or email. A member of our friendly team will make an appointment to assess your oral condition and provide treatment options.
Prevention of Jaw Injuries
There are times when jaw injuries and breaks happen regardless of care an individual exercises. For example, a jaw may be weak due to genetic development, bone disease, an accident or assault. However, jaw injuries can be prevented through seeking early dentistry care for misaligned teeth and jaws and following through on orthodontic treatments.
Wearing a mouth guard or shield during sports reduces the risk of injury where forceful contact is made to the face. Similarly, wearing a night mouth guard protects teeth from grinding habits that may also lead to jaw disorders.
Emergency medical care should take priority if head injury or concussion is present with jaw injury. However, it is critical to correctly re-position the jaw as soon as possible after injury.
By contacting an emergency dentist jaw realignment treatment can be attained in a timely manner to prevent further trauma. Placing a cold pack on the injury may help to reduce swelling and give relief of symptoms while awaiting care. Using cotton wool to absorb bleeding may also help with blood clotting.
An untreated injured or broken jaw may result in accentuated jaw injury and medical emergency. Receiving treatment as early as possible ensures jaw function is restored for healthy living. While awaiting emergency treatment the jaw and head may be bandaged to prevent unnecessary jaw movement and potential trauma.
Initially, a broken or injured jaw is painful and medical professionals recommend painkillers to reduce painful symptoms. Muscle relaxants can also prevent painful muscle spasms. The jaw is sometimes able to naturally re-set to normal within a six week period if medical or dentistry guidelines are followed or through professional manipulation.
However, not all misaligned or broken jaws re-set and can require orthodontic devices to facilitate proper function. Oral surgery to correct jaw function is provided only in severe cases of jaw breakage.
The jaw and its joints are often referred to as temporomandibular. Jaw disorders and injuries may affect any person at any time causing pain that radiates through the jaws, face, head, neck and back. For some people, the pain is more severe than others depending on the type of injury.
Jaw injury may also result from teeth grinding or bruxism that originates from anxiety. Some individuals grind their teeth when they sleep and others do it awake when they concentrate. Malocclusion genetic tendency or developing bite disorders may also lead to jaw injury and discomfort.
Bite disorders or malocclusion develop if an individual’s teeth on the upper and lower jaw do not meet properly when biting the teeth together. The jaw misalignment causes an imbalance of pressure on oral structures leading to temporomandibular or jaw joint dysfunction. The condition affects the ability to eat and speak.
Orthodontists or oral surgeons treat individuals with temporomandibular disorders and jaw injuries. Treatments may include surgery and orthodontic care combined with physiotherapy where appropriate to relieve symptoms of pain and discomfort.
Oral surgery may include jaw alignment followed by orthodontic treatment for teeth straightening and bite correction. In some cases, orthodontic braces are enough to treat malocclusion and misaligned teeth. However, if the case is severe surgery may be required to re-align the jaw to healthy function.
These treatments are available for young people and adults; increasingly, adults are choosing teeth straightening treatments to enhance their smiles. Individuals of all ages are able to have orthodontic care for improved oral function, appearance and self-confidence.