Jaw Dislocation, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention, Complications

Body Health

Jaw dislocation is a condition when the lower jawbone shifts or separates from the jaw joint. This condition can occur due to injury from an accident, or activities that make a person open their mouth wide and strong, such as yawning or having dental work. 

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Jaw Dislocation, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention, Complications

The jaw joint or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects the jawbone to the skull. The joints on both sides of the jaw function to open and close the jaw, such as when chewing food.

Jaw dislocation occurs when the mandibular bone slides out of one or both of the jaw joints. This condition causes pain in the jaw and difficulty speaking or eating.

Jaw dislocation, or what is also called temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dislocation, cannot be treated independently. Therefore, sufferers need to immediately see a doctor to get treatment.

Causes of Jaw Dislocation

Dislocation of the jaw can appear suddenly (acute) or gradually over the long term (chronic). Acute dislocation of the jaw generally occurs when the sufferer opens his mouth too wide and hard, for example when:

  • Yawn too wide
  • Have seizures
  • Keep your mouth open for too long during dental work
  • Have severe vomiting

Dislocation of the jaw can also occur as a complication due to the installation of a breathing apparatus (endotracheal intubation).

In addition to some of the common causes above, acute jaw dislocation can also be caused by an injury to the jaw. This injury can result from:

  • Accident
  • Fall
  • clash
  • Blow
  • Sports injuries

Meanwhile, chronic jaw dislocations are generally caused by untreated acute jaw dislocations. This causes the position of the jawbone to be abnormal for a long time.

Risk factors for jaw dislocation

Although it can happen to anyone, there are several factors that can increase a person's jaw dislocation, namely:

  • Have an indentation where the jaw joint (fossa mandibularis) is too shallow
  • Have had an injury to the jaw
  • Experiencing arthritis (arthritis) in the jaw joint
  • Suffering from connective tissue disorders, such as Marfan syndrome or Ehlers Danlos syndrome
  • Suffering from bruxism

Jaw Dislocation Symptoms

Jaw dislocation can occur in one or both jaw joints. Some of the symptoms that can appear are:

  • Pain in the jaw that may get worse when moving the jaw
  • Difficulty eating and talking
  • Unable to keep mouth shut
  • Saliva continues to come out (ngeces)
  • Jaws protrude forward
  • Misalignment of teeth and jaws (malocclusion)

When to see a doctor

Immediate treatment in the emergency room by a doctor needs to be done for people who suddenly cannot open or close their mouth normally, especially after an injury and if accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain
  • Hard to breathe

While waiting for treatment from the doctor, you can gently hold your jaw with your hands so that the jaw remains in position.

Immediately go to the doctor if the displacement of the jaw from its original position has occurred for a long time.

Diagnosis of Jaw Dislocation

To diagnose jaw dislocation, the doctor will ask and answer questions about symptoms, medical history, injury history, and medications the patient is taking. Next, the doctor will carry out a physical examination by feeling the cheek and jaw area.

To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor will also carry out the following examinations:

  • X-ray of the jaw, to check the position and condition of the jaw joint
  • CT scan of the jaw, to detect dislocation of the jaw or other abnormalities in the jaw, such as a fracture of the jaw

Jaw Dislocation Treatment

Treatment for dislocation of the jaw needs to be done by a doctor and treated as soon as possible to avoid damage and permanent changes in the position of the jaw joint

The following are some of the treatment methods that can be carried out by doctors:

Manual reduction

Manual reduction or jaw repositioning is done by returning the jaw to its normal position using the hands. Before this method is performed, the patient will be given local or general anesthesia, as well as muscle relaxants. Generally, manual reduction is performed in patients with acute dislocations.


Surgery may be performed if the jaw dislocation is chronic or accompanied by a jaw fracture. In this operation, the doctor will correct the position of the jaw and tighten the supporting tissues, namely the ligaments, between the jaw joint and the skull bones.

Installation of bandages (Barton bandage)

Banding will be done after manual reduction and jaw surgery. The goal is to limit movement of the jaw until the patient recovers. The bandage is installed by wrapping the chin to the head.

During the healing process, doctors can give botox injections periodically to speed up recovery. Botox injections will also be given to patients with jaw dislocations who often recur.

The healing process for dislocated jaws takes about 6 weeks. During this time, there are several things that need to be done by the patient, namely:

  • Take pain relievers that have been prescribed by a doctor
  • Eating soft or liquid foods
  • Don't open your mouth too wide
  • Ice the jaw area for 10 minutes every 2–3 hours a day

After recovery, the doctor will advise the patient to undergo jaw muscle exercises. Patients are also advised to continue eating soft foods for up to 2 weeks after recovery.

Jaw Dislocation Complications

If a jaw dislocation is not treated properly, several complications can arise, namely:

  • Injury to the facial nerve and blood vessels in the neck
  • Injury to the ear canal causing hearing loss
  • Recurrent jaw dislocation

Prevention of Jaw Dislocation

There are several efforts that can be made to reduce the risk of jaw dislocation, namely:

  • Wear personal protective equipment when playing sports or driving
  • Undergo routine treatment and control if suffering from a disease that can cause seizures
  • Wearing a mouth guard or protective gear if you have bruxism
  • Do not open your mouth too wide and long
  • Avoid eating large meals at once, such as burgers with thick layers

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