Dislocated Jaw: Care Instructions

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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 an accident. 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 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.
  • Try using heat or ice to see if that helps. Use an ice pack for 10 to 15 minutes every 2 to 3 hours. Put a thin cloth between the ice pack and your skin. Or try a heating pad on low heat for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours.
  • 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 at least 3 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 trouble breathing.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have trouble swallowing.
  • Your mouth is bleeding.
  • You have new or worse pain.
  • You can't close your mouth all the way.
  • Your bite doesn't line up the way it used to.

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

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.