Trauma to the jaw includes any physical injury to the jaw bones, which can include falls off bicycles or during impact sports, car crashes resulting in collision with the dashboard or seat, a punch to the jaw or any other impact to the face. Trauma to the jaw bones in children is often more serious than similar trauma in adults because it can lead to impairment in growth and development.


Typically, your child will know when an event that causes trauma to the jaws occurs.

The following signs and symptoms can then present:

  • Bruising, swelling and tenderness along the jaw
  • Teeth do not align properly when jaw is closed
  • Missing or loose teeth
  • Swelling or bruising of the gum over the jawbone or under the tongue
  • Difficulty opening the mouth
  • Pain in the jaw joint
  • Numbness in the lower lip or chin
  • Lower jaw shifting when opening the mouth


Trauma to the jaw can be diagnosed by examining the jaw bones, teeth and gums, as well as understanding the event that caused the impact. A CT scan is often done if bony trauma is suspected.


Fractures to the jaw are typically treated by jaw wiring or surgical placement of screws if the fracture is severe. Minor fractures may be simply treated by administering pain medication and limiting diet to soft or liquid foods. If teeth are lost, broken or displaced, an orthodontist will recommend the treatment that addresses the teeth.

Typical jaw surgeries require one to two months to heal and allow for normal growth and development. If broken jaw bones and/or teeth are left untreated, they can lead to facial deformities and chronic pain, as well as limited mobility of the jaw. Our team at the North Carolina Cleft and Craniofacial Center provides comprehensive care through reconstruction, surgery, therapy and future checkups to help your child recover from trauma to the jaw.