Dislocated Jaw: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

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 a bad fall. 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.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • 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.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on your jaw for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when you are awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • 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 6 weeks after your injury.

When should you call for help?

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

  • You have severe trouble breathing.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your jaw is locked open or shut.
  • You think your jaw has popped out of place again.
  • You have trouble talking or swallowing.
  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your jaw clicks or pops when you open your mouth.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: May 23, 2016