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 their face in an accident. 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 your child is healing. Make sure that your child does not try to open their 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 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.
- 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 child's skin. Or try a heating pad on low heat for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours.
- 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 their hands when yawning or sneezing for at least 3 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 trouble breathing.
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- Your child has trouble swallowing.
- Your child's mouth is bleeding.
- Your child has new or worse pain.
- Your child can't close their mouth all the way.
- Your child's bite doesn't line up the way it used to.
Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
- Your child does not get better as expected.
Where can you learn more?
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter B445 in the search box to learn more about "Dislocated Jaw in Children: Care Instructions".
Current as of: November 14, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine