What is jaw dislocation?

Jaw Dislocation
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Dislocated jaw: Overview

A dislocated jaw happens when the lower jawbone is pulled apart from one or both of the joints that connect the jaw to the base of the skull. This can cause problems even if the jaw pops back into place.

A dislocated jaw can happen when you hurt your face in an accident. Less often it can happen from opening your mouth too wide.

Your jaw may feel stiff, swollen, and sore. It is important to avoid hurting your jaw again while you are healing. Try not to open your mouth too wide. You may have a bandage wrapped around your jaw to help support it. Follow your doctor's instructions about wearing it.

How can you care for a dislocated jaw?

  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Try using heat or ice to see if that helps. Use an ice pack for 10 to 15 minutes every 2 to 3 hours. Put a thin cloth between the ice pack and your skin. Or try a heating pad on low heat for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours.
  • If your jaw is swollen, try raising your head and shoulders with three or four pillows when you sleep. This can reduce swelling.
  • Eat soft foods that are easy to chew to reduce jaw and mouth pain. Avoid hot foods or beverages, which may increase swelling around your mouth.
  • Avoid any activity that might hurt your jaw again. Support your jaw with your hands when you yawn or sneeze for at least 3 weeks after your injury.

Dislocated jaw in children: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child has trouble breathing.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has trouble swallowing.
  • Your child's mouth is bleeding.
  • Your child has new or worse pain.
  • Your child can't close their mouth all the way.
  • Your child's bite doesn't line up the way it used to.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.

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