How to Tell if Your Jaw is Broken

The jaw is a complex and important joint that gets a lot of use, and sometimes, abuse. A blow to the face, a fall, accident, or other injury can result in a broken jaw that is painful and needs immediate medical treatment.

Sometimes, however, the jaw may not break, but it will become misaligned, dislocated, inflamed, or irritated. This can also happen as a result of an acute accident or injury, but it often occurs more gradually with overuse or misuse of the joint. This misalignment and inflammation results in a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).

Similar Symptoms, Different Treatment

Unfortunately, the symptoms of a broken jaw can be quite similar to those of TMD. Both require treatment and can become serious issues if left untreated. For this reason, any jaw or facial pain should be evaluated by a medical professional who is experienced and knowledgeable in orofacial pain and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues.

The symptoms of a jaw fracture (break) may include:

  • Sharp pain in the face or jaw area

  • Swelling of the jaw

  • Difficulty eating, talking, or moving the jaw

  • Tooth misalignment and chewing problems

A broken jaw can cause serious complications, such as an infection, bleeding, breathing problems, and more. Many people who have a minor or hairline fracture may not even realize the jaw is broken and may delay seeking treatment. This is a mistake that can further deteriorate the health of the TMJ and could cause even more severe pain and issues as time goes on.

TMD can cause severe symptoms that mimic a broken jaw, making it difficult to distinguish the two issues. Many people with TMD report symptoms such as:

  • Pain in the face or jaw area

  • Swelling in the jaw area

  • Neck or back pain

  • Difficulty eating, talking, and moving the jaw

  • Tooth misalignment and chewing problems

  • Headaches

  • Neck and back pain

Because the symptoms can be so much alike, it’s necessary to get medical care to address the issue any time you experience jaw problems. 

Think About TMJ Pain Triggers

If you are diagnosed with TMD, it’s helpful to think about the events that took place prior to the onset of pain and other issues. This can help you and your health care provider determine what may be triggering TMD symptoms and what you can do to find relief.

While an impact or accident can certainly break or dislocate the jaw, things like stress, excessive chewing and talking, inadequate sleep, and even some illnesses can aggravate TMD. Avoiding these triggers should be an important part of your treatment plan to help alleviate TMD symptoms and restore your jaw to health again.

Even if you’re not sure what exactly caused your TMD, start keeping track of daily activities and any symptoms now. You may find that certain foods, temperatures, stressful situations, or activities are making your jaw pain worse. Those specific causes can be addressed so you can overcome the pain of TMD and get on with your life.

A healthy jaw is critical to overall good health. If you have symptoms of TMD, let us help. We have the state-of-the-art technology to diagnose TMD and the experience to treat your symptoms and develop a plan that works for you and your life. Contact MedCenter TMJ today to learn more!

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