Broken Jaws

 

The jaw is the 10th most common broken bone in the body according to emedicinehealth. The jaw is a very complicated bone. It holds the lower teeth in place, there is a part fits into the skull, and there are many places where muscles and ligaments attach so that all of the movements of the jaw can take place.

My personal experience with a patient is when he came in and told me that his tooth was loose. When I touched the tooth his entire jaw moved – he had too much to drink the night before and got into a fight. The punch broke the jaw in 2 places allowing the jaw movement. Fortunately my practice is near a hospital and I could direct him there for surgical treatment.

At the hospital x-rays are always taken to see where the fracture is and the extent. Most of the time jaw fractures are due to trauma, and that is true of fractures located in any of the places of the jawbone.

One way of classification is by location of the fracture. Another is how the type of fracture: a gunshot wound is more complicated (a comminuted fracture) is much different than a simple fracture. Compound fractures are fractures where the bone is outside the lining, whether the face or the mouth.

As you can see from reading the above, there is nothing really simple about jaw fractures. Once fragments are cleaned up and the bone is reset, if at all possible, then the jaw must be stabilized. This can be from inside the mouth or external, and the teeth can be wired closed. Jaws typically mend in about 6 weeks, so lots of liquids for the patients.

I want to mention having your jaws wired for orthodontics. This surgery is totally controlled by the orthodontist working in conjunction with the oral surgeon. The teeth are placed in a position where the surgeon can move the jaw around then place wires to stabilize the jaws and have them heal in the right spot. This is known as orthognathic surgery.

Less controlled is the jaw fracture due to cancer in the bone. The bone can become weakened and more prone to fracture. With this deteriorated condition healing is unpredictable.

So, if you have a broken jaw, a trip to an oral surgeon and a hospital is probably in your very near future.