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Dislocation of the jaw: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About dislocation of the jaw

The jaw is formed by the temporal-mandibular joint which is placed on either side of the face. The displacement of the bone of the lower jaw also called mandible, is therefore termed as jaw dislocation. Dislocation of the jaw is characterised by the sudden onset and excruciating pain in the mouth.

Dislocation of the jaw: Incidence, age and sex

Dislocation of the jaw is quite a common phenomenon especially in victims of motor vehicle accidents and sport injuries. It may occur in any age group and in individuals of any gender.

Signs and symptoms of dislocation of the jaw: Diagnosis

Dislocation of the jaw is an acute condition which requires immediate medical attention. The affected individual may complain of pain in front of the ear which may be exacerbated with jaw movement. The individual may find it difficult to speak or to chew food. Other features include loose teeth and drooling of saliva on the affected side. Sometimes complete closure of mouth is not possible in such affected individuals.

The doctor on examination, may note swelling of jaw on one side and asymmetrical facial contour along with mal-alignment of the teeth.

Causes and prevention of dislocation of the jaw

The jaw dislocation may occur during vehicular accidents or sport injuries. It may also occur during excessive opening of mouth as in yelling, yawning or during dental procedure. Individuals who have a history of prior incidence of jaw dislocation are especially prone to repetition of such incidents.

Dislocation of the jaw: Complications

The dislocation of jaw may cause difficulty in activities like talking or chewing food which requires movement of the mouth. Occasionally, jaw dislocation may also cause perforation of the blood vessel resulting in bleeding. Very rarely, it may get infected if not given timely medical attention.

Dislocation of the jaw: Treatment

The dislocation of jaw demands immediate medical attention. It is advisable to support the dislocated jaw until the individual reaches the hospital. The choice of treatment is generally non-surgical wherein the dislocated jaw is put back into place manually. This is an out patient procedure which usually does not require any anaesthesia. Surgical intervention, in which the ligaments of temporal-mandibular joint are shortened, may be considered in individuals who have had repeated jaw dislocations. The individual is advised to avoid wide opening of the mouth for the next 4-6 weeks after joint reduction. Some individuals may need bandages to stabilise the jaw. The dislocation of jaw carries good prognosis after treatment and results in complete healing without any residual problem.