Exams and Tests
A doctor will conduct a physical exam and order X-rays, if indicated. Blood tests usually are not necessary.
- The physical examination would consist of a general inspection of your face for obvious deformity, bruising, or swelling. The next step would begin with feeling the jawbone through the skin.
- The doctor will check the movement of the mandible. Once the external exam is complete, the doctor will check inside your mouth. You will be asked to bite down, and your teeth will be assessed for alignment.
- The doctor will check the jawbone for stability. With the straight blade test, the doctor may place a tongue blade (tongue depressor, a flat wooden stick) between your teeth and evaluate whether you can hold the blade in place.
- The best screening film is the panoramic X-ray, completely around the jaw. This type of X-ray may not be available in smaller hospitals, so other views may be substituted. If the initial X-rays are negative, a CT scan may be indicated if the doctor thinks you have a broken jaw.
Broken Jaw Treatment
Self-Care at Home
If there is any question that you may have a broken jaw, you need to be checked by a doctor or a dentist specializing in oral surgery.
Ice should be applied to the jaw to help control the swelling on your way to be seen by the doctor. Sometimes you will need a paper cup to catch the drool or to spit blood into on the trip to the doctor or emergency department.
Many people who have jaw pain will not have a jaw fracture and will be treated with pain medications and instructions to eat a soft diet and to follow up with their doctor.
- Those with fractures require further evaluation. Many fractures of the jawbone are associated with gum problems or tissue damage and should be considered open fractures. They will be treated with antibiotics.
- You may receive a tetanus shot.
- Pain will be addressed and managed effectively.
- Many mandible fractures are stable, and the only treatment required is wiring the upper and lower teeth together. This will most commonly be performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
- More unstable fractures often require surgery. Surgical methods using plates across the fracture site may allow you to have normal motion of the mandible and to eat shortly after surgery.