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Face and Jaw Surgery

Jaw dislocation



Last night while waiting the my car for my son to come out of school at his basketball game I was talking on the phone with my brother. I yawned and my mouth was wide open, and my jaw was locked. I was in pain, fustration, and panic. I could not talk, or swallow and saliva was pouring out of the bottom of my jaw. Thank goodness I was on the phone with my brother and he knew what happened when I started moaning and crying. Trying to tell him what the address of my son`s school was another story. To complicate the situation my 5 year old son was sleeping in his car seat in the back. My first thought was (what if he wakes up and see`s me like this) he will get scared and start crying, and I won`t be able to calm him down. My brother finally found me, we tranferred from my car into his and rushed to the hospital emergency. I can`t explain what I felt but it was terrible and it seemed like I was going into shock. They relocated my Jaw and sent me home. The question is "what if this happens to me around people that do not know me, or when I am driving, or shopping, etc. How can I explain what is wrong if I can`t talk. Please help.


Your history indicates jaw dislocation that was reduced in the ER. I do not have an answer as to how you can explain to your son if this happens. Information about your problem should help you face this better in future.

A dislocated jaw (dislocated mandible) generally is very painful. The mouth usually cannot be closed, and the jaw may be twisted to one side. A dislocated jaw is typically caused by opening the mouth excessively wide or by an injury. Other causes include vomiting, yawning, looseness of the jaw (hypermobility) and prolonged dental procedures.

The ER doctor maneuvered your jaw back into place (manual reduction). You should avoid opening the mouth wide for at least 6 weeks. Some people with recurrent jaw dislocations can reduce by themselves. If this happens again you can reduce your jaw back by placing your fingers on the lower back teeth and presses downward and then slightly forward on the outer surface of the teeth. If necessary, exert backward pressure too. If you are not able to do so, please go to the ER as soon as possible.

If the  dislocation occurs more than 2 to 3 times you need to see an Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon so you could be examined and appropriate radiographs or scans can be obtained. Surgery may be needed to reduce the risk of further dislocations. There are various surgical procedures present and can be presented only after a complete evaluation.

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Response by:

Likith V Reddy, MD, DDS, FACS Likith V Reddy, MD, DDS, FACS
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati