Fractured jaw is a term used to describe a broken jaw bone. It is a common sports injury, particularly in contact sports such as boxing, football, and rugby. The most prevalent fracture of the jaw occurs at the angle of the mandible or chin, where the condyle joins with the rest of the bone. Fractures can also occur further down towards the midline, weaker bone.
It is a relatively rare injury in boxing as boxers tend to be well-conditioned, and protective equipment such as gum shields and helmets are used. During the bare-knuckle era, it was an extremely common injury that was caused by the gloved fist, head butting, and grappling.
Fractured Jaw Symptoms
There are several symptoms associated with a broken jaw. Some people have nasty cuts, which can cause profuse bleeding inside the mouth. A person may also have a broken nose or a black eye, depending on where the fracture is situated on the face. The other common symptoms of fractured jaws are:
- Difficulty opening the jaw or speaking
- Pain when chewing or biting down
- Swelling around the face
- A change in the way the teeth fit together when closing the mouth
- Tenderness to touch in the facial area
- In more complicated cases, people can have neurological symptoms such as facial numbness and a change in taste. This is because there might be damage to nerves that may cause impairment of certain functions, including moving the tongue or closing the eyelids.
- Nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.
Causes of a Fractured Jaw
Several causes can lead to fractured jaws. Some people suffer from them after having an accident while participating in sports or simply being involved in a fight. Other causes include:
- Sports injuries
- Falls or car accidents.
- Symptoms of a type of cancer known as osteoradionecrosis (ORN).
- Substance abuse disorders such as meth mouth where people eat high amounts of sugar and damage their teeth and gums.
- Helicobacter pylori is a bacterium acquired by eating contaminated food or water.
Fractured Jaw Treatment
The treatment of a fractured jaw largely depends on the severity of the injury. In most cases, it may only require some ice on the area, minor painkillers, and not eating for 24 hours to allow the bone to heal. The following are some common treatments for this condition:
Analgesics will reduce pain, while anti-inflammatory medication will help with the swelling. The most common medication used to treat a fractured jaw is Voltaren. Also, antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent secondary infections. Sometimes patients are asked not to eat anything for the first three days after suffering a fractured jaw. If longer periods of fasting are required, feeding tubes can be used to provide nutrition.
If an individual has multiple fractures or neurological symptoms are present, surgery is indicated. The surgical procedure for this condition is a Le Fort fracture reduction. In some cases, this procedure can be done as a minimally invasive surgery where the doctor uses small incisions. This allows faster healing and recovery than traditional surgery, requiring large incisions.
In most cases, an individual will have their jaw wired shut to heal. The way it is fixed in place varies according to the surgeon; some doctors use plates and screws, while others prefer special wires attached to the teeth. As long as the jaw is immobilized, healing should be possible within six weeks.
A local anesthetic or some sedatives may be administered to numb the pain. The patient is given an antibiotic and a tetanus shot, if they havent had one recently. The operation usually takes about two hours and is performed under a general anesthetic.
Fractured Jaw Prevention
To prevent fractures to the jaw, one should avoid activities that likely cause trauma or injury. Some sports are known to have a high risk of injuries, so people who play them may want to look for alternatives. If you have to play sports, wearing safety gear such as a helmet will help reduce the risk of injury.
One should also avoid being involved in any fights or taking part in contact sports unless properly trained. Besides, it is important to keep your body healthy by eating a balanced diet and drinking lots of water. Eating habits that promote healthy teeth include avoiding sticky or chewy foods, as well as those that contain a lot of sugar.
A person should also visit the dentist for regular dental checkups to get problems such as gum disease treated before it becomes serious.
It is quite common to suffer from a fractured jaw at some point in your life, and the condition does not always require surgery. However, if you suspect that you might have a fractured jaw, then the best course of action is to seek medical care as soon as possible. It is also good to follow some self-care steps such as applying ice or taking painkillers until your health care practitioner can see you and provide further treatment.