Even though we don’t hear about broken jaws as often as we hear about broken arms and legs, jaw fractures are actually surprisingly common. In fact, they’re the 10th most common type of break, occurring most often in men and in people in their 20s.
At Pacific Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Center, Brandon Kang, DDS, treats simple and complex jaw fractures using state-of-the-art surgical and nonsurgical techniques to restore jaw health and function in patients from Oakland and San Francisco, California.
The key to a quick, complete recovery is making sure your treatment is tailored to your medical needs and unique anatomy.
How jaw fractures happen
Jaw fractures happen when your jaw or face is subjected to some sort of impact. The most common causes of jaw fractures include:
- Workplace accidents
- Car accidents
- Sports injuries
Jaw fractures can be simple or compound (breaking through the skin). Sometimes, the ends of the fracture line up, while other times, the ends are displaced. Some fractures involve more than one break in your jaw, or your jaw may be dislocated at the time of the fracture.
Jaw fracture symptoms
Jaw fractures can definitely cause a lot of pain, but they can cause other symptoms too. The most common symptoms include:
- Pain in your jaw and midface region
- Numbness in your mouth or face
- Feeling like your teeth don’t “meet” properly
- Difficulty opening your jaw
- Problems speaking or chewing
- Swelling and bruising in your jaw or tongue
- Bleeding inside your mouth
- Missing or loose teeth
- Pain in or near your ear
The type and degree of symptoms you have will depend on the severity and type of your fracture.
Treatment and recovery
Some mild jaw fractures may heal with rest from chewing and other jaw-related activities. In these instances, Dr. Kang may prescribe a liquid diet for a period of time to give your jaw an opportunity to mend.
More severe fractures, including displaced fractures, require surgery to correct. Jaw fracture repair surgery uses IV sedation or general anesthesia to keep you comfortable. During your surgery, Dr. Kang gently restores the normal position of your jaw bones, securing them in position using screws, pins, and plates.
During recovery, your jaw may be wired shut to prevent movement while the fractured area heals. You won’t be able to normally brush your teeth during healing, so Dr. Kang will prescribe a special mouth rinse to prevent cavities. You’ll also need to follow a liquid diet until the wires are removed.
Most jaw fractures heal within 1-2 months. After the area stabilizes, Dr. Kang will remove the wires (if used). Regular jaw exercises will relieve any stiffness and help your jaw regain its normal strength and movement.
Don’t ignore facial injuries
Even a slight impact can cause a jaw fracture, and if the fracture is mild, you might not realize your jaw is broken. However, if you continue to use your jaw as you normally do, you can wind up worsening the fracture or causing other complications.
That’s why if you have any sort of jaw pain or swelling, especially after a blow to your face, it’s very important to have it medically evaluated. Dr. Kang and his team are experts in jaw fracture treatment.
To learn more about facial trauma treatment at Pacific Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Center, book an appointment online or call our office today.