Dislocated jaw

A dislocated jaw can be caused by forceful yawning or from an impact or force such as in a vehicular accident or being punched in the face. The jawbone fits into a joint on every side of the head and ends up dislocated if the bone slides out of these joints. Other activities that can lead to a dislocated jaw include vomiting, laughing, eating, singing and even dental treatment.

A dislocated jaw can cause intense pain and it can be difficult to close the mouth. The teeth might not even normally align or the lower jaw seems to be further forward than normal.

What are the indications?

Dislocated jaw

A dislocated jaw can cause intense pain and it can be difficult to close the mouth.

The typical indications of a dislocated jaw include pain in or around the jaw, misalignment of the teeth and forward motion of the jaw beyond its normal position. The other indications might include difficulty closing and opening the mouth.

The individual might experience all or only a few symptoms that might be severe such as:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bruising or bleeding around the jaw
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty closing or opening the mouth
  • Drooling
  • Teeth misalignment
  • Jaw or facial pain especially in the area in front and below the ears on every side
  • Swollen face or jaw
  • Protrusion of the lower jaw forward

Risk factors

Various risk factors increase the risk for developing a dislocated jaw. Remember that not all individuals with the risk factors end up with a dislocated jaw. The risk is increased if the individual has the following:

  • History of a dislocated jaw
  • Engaging in sports particularly motor sports or contact sports

Management

A dislocated jaw should be restored back in place. Since the jaw muscles are strong, this require numbing medications and muscle relaxants. When the jaw is restored to its normal position, the movement of the jaw should be limited initially to prevent from dislocation again.

The treatment for a dislocated jaw is based on the severity of the dislocation and whether it is the initial occurrence. The commonly used treatment options include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen to minimize the pain and swelling after the jaw was restored to its original position.
  • Replacement of the dislocated jaw to its normal position. Due to the strength of the muscles around the jaw, numbing medication and muscle relaxants might be used. The doctor will restore the jaw to its original location by pressing firmly into place.
  • The jaw movement might be limited using bandages so that it could not be widely opened after being dislocated since it is prone to future dislocations until it fully heals.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on a dislocated jaw is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage jaw injuries, register for a first aid and CPR course with Winnipeg First Aid.

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