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First Aid for Broken Jaw

Last updated March 3, 2018

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

Broken Jaw is a term that describes a fracture in the jaw bone. The condition is a medical emergency that needs to be treated right-away.

What is Broken Jaw?

  • Broken Jaw is a term that describes a fracture in the jaw bone. The condition is a medical emergency that needs to be treated right-away
  • In some cases, there may be displaced or broken tooth along-with a Broken Jaw. The condition can also be that the jaw is dislocated and moved out of its normal alignment

What are the Causes of Broken Jaw?

A Broken Jaw may be caused by:

  • Contact or rough-impact sports
  • Physical fights causing jaw injuries, domestic violence
  • Fall injuries
  • Car or motor vehicle accidents
  • Accidents that occur at one’s workplace

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Broken Jaw?

The signs and symptoms of a Broken Jaw depend on the severity of the injury and may include:

  • Pain in the jaw, which is severe during biting motion. The pain may also increase on opening one’s mouth
  • The pain is felt on the side of the facial injury or fracture
  • Localized swelling, with or without bruising
  • Swollen face and lips, broken teeth
  • Bleeding may be seen from the mouth
  • Visible facial distortion or abnormality, in case of a severe injury
  • Stiffness of jaw; else, the jaw is seen to move abnormally from one side to the other
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unable to speak
  • Severe headache
  • Loss of balance
  • Difficulty breathing; obstruction of the airways
  • Aspiration of food or blood into the lungs
  • Unconsciousness
  • If the jaw is dislocated, the following may be noted (in addition to some of the above symptoms):
    • Difficulty in closing one’s mouth
    • Salivation from the mouth, since it is difficult to keep the mouth closed
    • Visible jaw misalignment (jaw is to one side or it protrudes forward)

How is First Aid administered for Broken Jaw?

First Aid tips for Broken Jaw include:

  • Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately
  • If the individual is not breathing, begin CPR immediately (if you are trained to do so)
  • If the individual is bleeding from the mouth, ask him/her to spit it without much effort into a piece of clean cloth or gauze
  • Apply an ice-pack or ice wrapped in cloth, on the affected area
  • Stop any bleeding by applying direct pressure on the affected area, using a clean cloth or bandage
  • Support the jaw by firmly tying a handkerchief around the head and below the jaw (like a sling), so that the jaw is held in place
  • Ensure that the tied handkerchief is not fastened too tight. If necessary, use a hand to gently support the jaw
  • DO NOT attempt to realign the jaw or correct the defect in any manner
  • In case the individual is going to vomit, remove the tied piece of cloth to permit the same
  • In case any teeth are broken, retrieve them, hold them by the crown, clean using milk or water, and place them in cold milk/water (or even in saliva). Take these also to the healthcare specialist
  • Immobilize the head in such a way that there is not much movement

Who should administer First Aid for Broken Jaw?

The individual with the Broken Jaw, or someone near the affected person, or a qualified healthcare personnel may administer First Aid.

What is the Prognosis of Broken Jaw?

The prognosis depends on the severity of the Broken Jaw and the prompt treatment provided.

  • In many case, the healthcare provider can set the jaw back in position or set broken jaw bones
  • In some cases of severe injury, a surgery may be necessary, wherein metal inserts are used to hold the jaw bones together. This may prolong the recovery period
  • Post-operative care is important to ensure complete recovery and normal usage of jaw

How can Broken Jaw be Prevented?

A few helpful tips to prevent Broken Jaw:

  • Use of appropriate headgear, wearing helmets and seat belts, may help avoid severe injuries during participation in certain sports activities
  • Fall proof the home, especially when there are young children and elderly adults

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

  • DO NOT try to align the jaw into its normal position
  • Immobilization of the jaw using a sling
  • Starting CPR in case of breathing difficulty
  • Calling 911 (or your local emergency number)

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Aug. 26, 2017
Last updated: March 3, 2018