Broken Jaw Overview
A broken jaw (or mandibular fracture) is a common facial injury. Only the nose is broken more frequently. A broken jaw is the tenth most common fractured bone in the human body. Fractures (breaks in the bone) are generally the result of a direct force or trauma to the jawbone.
- The jawbone, or mandible, is the largest and main bone of the lower part of the face. The chief areas of the mandible bone are the body (chin out to the jaw angle) and the 2 upward branches, called the rami.
- Men are about 3 times more likely than women to sustain a broken jaw. Those ages 20 to 29 are the most common group affected.
Broken Jaw Causes
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Sports-related injuries
Broken Jaw Symptoms
- The most common symptom is jaw pain.
- You may feel that your teeth do not fit together correctly (this is called a malocclusion). You may be unable to open your jaw all the way, have problems speaking, or notice swelling of the jaw.
- Your chin or lower lip may be numb because of damage to a nerve that runs through the mandible.
- Inside the mouth, you may see bleeding or find a change in the normal lineup of teeth. There might also be bruising under the tongue or even a cut in the ear canal due to movement backward of the broken jawbone.
When to Seek Medical Care
Call your doctor if you have been injured and feel that your teeth don't fit together correctly, if you have bleeding within the mouth, problems speaking, or swelling.
This injury is best evaluated at a hospital. Therefore, your doctor may advise you to go to an emergency department. Remember, if you are the one who is injured, you should not be driving. Have someone take you to the emergency department.
A potential but serious consequence of jaw fractures is a problem breathing due to loss of support to the tongue. Therefore, any signs of breathing problems need to be addressed immediately by calling 911.