Dislocated Jaw in Children: 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 your child hurts his or her face in a bad fall. Less often it can happen from opening the mouth too wide.

Your child's jaw may feel stiff, swollen, and sore. It is important that your child not hurt the jaw again while he or she is healing. Make sure that your child does not try to open his or her mouth too wide. You may wrap a bandage around the jaw to help support it. Be sure your child wears the bandage as the doctor directs.

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

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Give pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on your child's jaw for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when your child is awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin.
  • If your child's jaw is swollen, try putting three or four pillows under your child's head and shoulders at bedtime. This can reduce swelling.
  • Give your child soft foods that are easy to chew to reduce jaw and mouth pain. Avoid giving your child hot foods or beverages, which may increase swelling around the mouth.
  • Help your child avoid any activity that might hurt the jaw again. Teach your child how to support the jaw with his or her hands when yawning or sneezing for 6 weeks after the injury.

When should you call for help?

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

  • Your child has severe trouble breathing.

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

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

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

  • The jaw clicks or pops when your child opens his or her mouth.
  • Your child does 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