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Jaw Dislocation


Michael N. Wajdowicz


Last full review/revision Nov 2020| Content last modified Nov 2020
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A dislocated jaw (dislocated mandible) generally is a very painful, urgent dental problem that needs the prompt attention of a doctor or dentist. The mouth cannot be closed, and the jaw may be twisted to one side. A dislocated jaw is occasionally caused by an injury but is typically caused by opening the mouth excessively wide (such as during yawning, biting into a large sandwich, vomiting, or during a dental procedure).

Dislocation is more likely to occur in people who have had previous dislocations or who have looseness of the jaw (hypermobility), which may result from temporomandibular disorders.

A doctor or dentist typically maneuvers the jaw back into place by hand (manual reduction).

Putting a Dislocated Jaw Back in Place

After wrapping their fingers with gauze, doctors or dentists place their thumbs inside the mouth on the lower back teeth. They place their other fingers around the bottom of the lower jaw. They press down on the back teeth and push the chin up until the jaw joints return to their normal location.

Putting a Dislocated Jaw Back in Place

Barton Bandage

A Barton’s bandage is used to temporarily stabilize the jaw after a fracture.

Barton Bandage

Once the jaw is back in place, doctors sometimes apply a Barton bandage (see figure Barton Bandage) to limit the motion of the jaw to prevent another dislocation while the inflammation in the jaw joint resolves. Also, people are cautioned to avoid opening the mouth wide for at least 6 weeks. When anticipating a yawn, people should place a fist under their chin to prevent it from opening wide. People must cut their food into small pieces. For people who have had more than one dislocation, surgery may be needed to reduce the risk of further dislocations. For instance, the ligaments connecting the jaw to the skull (at the temporomandibular joint) can be shortened, thereby tightening the joint.

More Information

The following is an English-language resource that may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of this resource.

  • Mouth Healthy: This resource provides information on oral health, including nutrition and guidance on selecting products that carry the American Dental Association's seal of approval, as well as advice on how to find a dentist and when to see one.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
Click here for the Professional Version
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