A broken or dislocated jaw requires prompt medical attention because of the risk of breathing problems or bleeding. Call your local emergency number (such as 911) or local hospital for further advice.
Hold the jaw gently in place with your hands while traveling to the emergency room. A bandage may also be wrapped over the top of the head and under the jaw. The bandage should be easily removable in case you need to vomit.
If breathing problems or heavy bleeding occurs, or if there is severe facial swelling, a tube may be placed into your airways to help you breathe.
Temporarily bandaging the jaw (around the top of the head) to prevent it from moving may help reduce pain.
Treatment for a fractured jaw depends on how badly the bone is broken. If you have a minor fracture, the fracture can heal on its own. You may only need pain medicines and to follow a soft or liquid diet for a while.
Surgery is often needed for moderate to severe fractures. The jaw may be wired to the teeth of the opposite jaw to improve stability. Jaw wires are usually left in place for 6 to 8 weeks. Small rubber bands (elastics) are used to hold the teeth together. After a few weeks, some of the elastics are removed to allow motion and reduce joint stiffness.
If the jaw is wired, you can only drink liquids or eat very soft foods. Have blunt scissors readily available to cut the elastics in the event of vomiting or choking. If the wires must be cut, consult a health care provider promptly so they can be replaced.
If the jaw is dislocated, the health care provider may be able to place it back into the correct position using the thumbs. Numbing medicines (anesthetics) and muscle relaxants may be needed to relax the jaw muscles.
The jaw may need to be stabilized. This usually involves bandaging the jaw to keep the mouth from opening widely. In some cases, surgery is needed to do this, particularly if repeated jaw dislocations occur.
After dislocating your jaw, you should not open your mouth widely for at least 6 weeks. Support your jaw with one or both hands when yawning and sneezing.