Jaw Dislocation

ExitCare ImageA jaw dislocation is the displacement of the joint where the upper jaw bone (maxilla) and the lower jaw bone (mandibula) meet (temporomandibular joint). Soon after the dislocation, the jaw muscles tighten. This prevents the mouth from closing normally.

CAUSES

A jaw dislocation usually is caused by a sudden forceful impact to the jaw. A strong punch in the jaw during a fist fight or a sports injury are examples of causes of jaw dislocation. Another cause is injury due to car or motorcycle accidents.

RISK FACTORS

Although anyone can have a jaw dislocation, some people are more at risk than others. People at increased risk for jaw dislocation include participants in contact sports.

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms of jaw dislocation can vary, depending on the severity of the dislocation. They can include:

  • Feeling that your teeth are out of alignment when you bite.

  • Inability to close your mouth completely.

  • Drooling.

  • Extreme pain, with the inability to move your jaw.

DIAGNOSIS

Your caregiver will feel your temporomandibular joints and ask you to move your jaw. Your caregiver also will feel the inside of your mouth to make sure there are no fractures or cuts (lacerations).

TREATMENT

Your caregiver will manipulate your jaw to put it back into place (reduction). If you have any jaw fractures from the dislocation, they usually will be held in place with plates and screws or with wiring.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

The following measures can help to reduce pain and hasten the healing process:

  • Rest your injured joint. Do not move it. Avoid activities similar to the one that caused your injury.

  • Apply ice to your injured joint for 1 to 2 days after your reduction or as directed by your caregiver. Applying ice helps to reduce inflammation and pain.

  • Put ice in a plastic bag.

  • Place a towel between your skin and the bag.

  • Leave the ice on for 15-20 minutes at a time, 03-04 times a day.

  • Take over-the-counter or prescription medication for pain as directed by your caregiver.

Also, your caregiver may instruct you to only have certain foods until your jaw heals. These foods may be soft or liquified so that your jaw does not have to move much to eat them.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You have plates and screws or wiring to hold your jaw together that becomes loose or damaged.

  • You develop drainage from any of the cuts (incisions) where your wires or plates and screws were placed.

  • Your pain becomes worse rather than better.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.